Washington, (February 3, 1997) -- Life at Risk: A Closer Look at Assisted Suicide is the theme for an upcoming international conference exploring legal, medical, ethical and policy concerns about physician-assisted suicide.
The conference will be held at the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, March 7-8. It is designed for representatives of religious and other non-profit organizations, state and federal legislators, health care policy makers, medical professionals and other concerned citizens. It will be open to media coverage.
Co-sponsors of the international gathering are the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Columbus School of Law, and the Center for Jewish and Christian Values.
The keynote address, on the meanings of the euthanasia debate, will be given by Rabbi David Novak of the University of Toronto.
The conference will also explore alternative solutions to the problems of seriously ill patients and their families. Speakers will include nationally recognized academic and professional experts; visitors from Canada, Britain and the Netherlands; and people who have faced a diagnosis of terminal illness or serious disability.
Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, will host banquet the evening of March 7 at which Mary Jane Owen of the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities will speak. The luncheon address on March 8 will be given by Professor Stephen Carter of Yale University, author of The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion (Basic Books 1993).
Two conference speakers have recently published critically acclaimed books: Dr. Ira Byock of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, author of Dying Well: The Prospect for Growth at the End of Life (Riverhead Books 1997), and Dr. Herbert Hendin of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, author of Seduced by Death: Doctors, Patients, and the Dutch Cure (W.W. Norton 1997).
Other conference speakers will include Dr. Edmund Pellegrino of Georgetown University; Dr. Carlos Gomez of the University of Virginia; Cathleen Kaveny of the University of Notre Dame; Dr. Harold Koenig, Duke University; Henk Jochemsen, Lindeboom Institute Center for Medical Ethics and Dr. Zbigniew Zylicz, Rozenheuvel Hospice, both from the Netherlands; John Keown of Cambridge University, England; Alicia Super of the Supportive Care of the Dying Coalition; Alexander Capron of the University of Southern California; and Evan Kemp, representing the organization "Not Dead Yet."
The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in assisted suicides cases from New York and Washington state. The Court's ruling is expected this summer.
A conference brochure with more complete information is available on request. Media seeking press credentials should contact Gene Tarne or Michelle Powers at (703) 683-5004.