Bioethics Challenge Week 5

Audrey K. is 38-year-old resident of Oregon. Audrey has had several disabilities since birth. She is unable to get out of bed alone and cannot walk. Audrey has been fed for the last several years by a feeding tube. She is able to eat but has great difficulty swallowing and therefore has been given supplemental nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube. She lives with her Aunt Josephine and is cared for by Josephine and home-health aides. Josephine believes Audrey may suffer from undiagnosed depression. She asked her physician, Dr. Rollins, to end the supplemental feeding even though Dr. Rollins had explained to Audrey that she would not be able to survive for very long on the food she would be able to take on her own. Dr. Rollins agreed to remove the tube when Audrey re-confirmed her wish that this happen. Two weeks later, when Audrey’s already low body weight has been reduced by an additional 5 pounds, she asks Dr. Rollins to give her medication that she can use to end her life. How should Dr. Rollins respond, in your view? Is the doctor allowed under the state’s law to prescribe the medication that Audrey wants to obtain? And if so, should (must) the doctor do so? If not, how should the doctor respond to Audrey’s request? Preferred language style US English