NPR Host Diane Rehm and 4 Outspoken Guests Tackle "Right-to-Die" Topic

NPR’s Diane Rehm’s personal story catapulted her to the forefront of the right-to-die debate when she shared her husband’s death with the public. Her husband John struggled with Parkinson’s disease and then struggled with his end-of-life choices. John wanted to die on his own terms but he lived in a state where there was no legal aid-in-dying option.

John died in June, 2014 - 10 days after he refrained from eating and drinking. 

The lively conversations and heated debates continue regarding end-of-life options for those that are terminally ill.

On February 17, The Diane Rehm Show rekindled the conversation with her guests Art Kaplan, Barbara Coombs Lee - President of Compassion & Choices, Dr. Ira Byock, and Michael Rosenweld - writer for The Washington Post. Each brought a voice of reason to the table. While the guests have a difference of opinion about a single solution, they do agree that something must be done about dying in America. 

States across the nation are grappling with defining a person’s right to die and what that actually means.  Brittany Maynard broadcasted her choice to end her own life bringing this heated topic to the headline news and putting Brittany on the cover of People magazine.

Now the public is talking out loud. It’s a conversation that needs to occur and an important one.

What exactly is a good death? What are your end-of-life rights?  What should the doctor’s role be in fulfilling a patient’s wishes? What legal and moral boundaries need to be considered? Many have an opinion. Few have a plan.

“Many people are dying badly” states Dr. Ira Byock, author of “The Best Care Possible” and “Dying Well”.  Art Kaplan, head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU says “We’ve made a mess of dying”.

Planning for death needs to be an open deliberation –at our kitchen tables and nationwide. Diane Rehm, along with her uniquely recognizable voice, welcomes this discussion and will, no doubt, keep this topic on the front burner and ignited as our nation thoughtfully examines what needs to be done to fix dying in America.

Are you having the conversation? Does your family know your wishes? Have you made an end-of-life plan and have you planned ahead for what happens after death?