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Do Alzheimer’s Patients Have a ‘Duty to Die?’

When Dr. Jonathan Groner, a surgeon and ethicist at Ohio State University, heard of a suggestion by a well-known British philosopher that those with dementia have a “duty to die” in order to minimize the burden they place on society and their families, he was troubled.

Alzheimer’s groups and medical ethicists are expressing outrage over the suggestion by British moral philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock that those with dementia should consider ending their lives early.

First, there were the moral implications of the comments that 84-year-old Baroness Mary Helen Warnock shared with the Church of Scotland’s Life and Work magazine last week, in which she stated, “If you’re demented, you’re wasting people’s lives – your family’s lives – and you’re wasting the resources of the National Health Service.”

Such a policy could put society on a slippery slope, he said. And he noted many of the potential moral pitfalls accompanying the suggestion that those suffering from dementia should make a decision to end their own lives.

But Groner said losing his own father to Alzheimer’s in January has perhaps given him the most insight into the issue – and why the lives of dementia sufferers must not be devalued.

Full story at ABC News.

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