LAST RIGHTS: Death and Dying in Texas Law and Experience by Robert J. Connelly

LAST RIGHTS: Death and Dying in Texas Law and Experience

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Drawing on Texas' relatively long experience with ""right to die"" legislation, Connelly, a teacher of philosophy at Incarnate Word College, San Antonio, poses a salient question: do current laws adequately protect patient autonomy and the right of individuals to control their own dying? The celebrated Collums case--69-year-old Woodrow Collums' trial for shooting his senile, 72-year-old, terminally ill brother--is the pertinent focus for much of the discussion. Under scrutiny, variously, are the basic concepts and practical applications of three Texas laws: the 1969 Anatomical Gift Act, which raises organ-transplantation issues; the 1977 Natural Death Act, which legalized one very limited form of passive euthanasia; and the 1979 ""brain death law,"" which established a standard for determining death (irreversible cessation of all brain function). In each ease, Connelly makes reasonable suggestions for changes that could remove ambiguity or ""unnecessary emphasis on physicians' over patients' rights."" His final big push, however, is for hospices--both as the best means of providing comfort for dying patients and as the environment in which their rights and individuality are most likely to be protected. ""Dying,"" we can't hear too often, ""is a personal, familial, and moral/ spiritual matter which is not reducible simply to a problem for medical science to handle."" A thoughtful look at a regional experience with lessons for the rest of us--and a comfortable mean between personal chronicles and comprehensive studies (such as Health and Human Values, by Frank Harron and others, below).

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1983
Publisher: Corona Publishing (1037 S. Alamo, San Antonio, TX 78210)