Viewpoint: Most Americans ‘woefully underprepared’ for bioethical decisions, including when to remove a loved one from life support

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Many Americans will face some form of significant medical decision-making during their lifetimes, either for themselves or for their loved ones. Often, the choices they confront will raise challenging ethical questions: when to remove a relative from life support, whether to donate an organ to a family member, how to approach screening of an expected child in utero.

Unfortunately, most of us give little thought to these issues until they actually arise, and then we find ourselves woefully underprepared for the complex dilemmas we face. This need not be the case. However, change will only occur when bioethics is broadly incorporated into school curricula and when our nation’s thought leaders begin to place emphasis on the importance of reflecting meaningfully in advance upon these issues.

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I designed a two-part secondary school bioethics curriculum for the New York Times’ Learning Network last year. An even more extensive curriculum for teens is available from New York University’s School of Medicine. Needless to say, such curricula cannot address all of the theoretical issues that might arise over a lifetime. Rather, they can provide flexible tools for recognizing and grappling with a wide range of potential scenarios.

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Read full, original post: The Silent Crisis of Bioethics Illiteracy

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