Dying with Dignity


Last month, 14-year-old Valentina Maureira made a “plea for death” to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, which quickly became a catalyst for the euthanasia debate. News coverage of Valentina’s story reported that the President’s hands are tied (assisted suicide isn’t legal in Chile), but that didn’t stop her from paying Valentina a visit and reportedly offering to provide all the emotional and psychological support and medical treatment needed to improve Maureira's living conditions. But is that what Valentina wants? While the hospice movement and other innovations in palliative care have been welcome strategies for easing the dying experience, many people still do not have their final wishes respected. What is it like to be present with people, like Valentina (who has an estimated three years left to live), as they approach death? Arthur Leonard Caplan, director of medical ethics at New York University, Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations, and Akaya Windwood, president of the Rockwood Leadership Institue, joined Al Jazeera America’s Ray Suarez to discuss dignity in death at last year’s Spotlight Health. (Watch the session above.)