15 Mar “What Is Death?” – The New York Times
“How should we define the death of a person? Philosophers and physicians have long pondered this question, yet we still don’t have a satisfactory answer. For much of human history, death was synonymous with the cessation of the heartbeat. However, there are patients in hospitals whose hearts are still beating but who appear to be less than fully alive. Are they dead?
Fifty years ago, a Harvard committee tried to bring a modern perspective to this question. The chairman, Henry Beecher, a renowned bioethicist, was motivated by the conundrum of ‘hopelessly unconscious’ patients being kept alive by mechanical ventilation and other newly developed medical technologies. Such patients were ‘increasing in numbers over the land,’ he wrote…”Read