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CLEAR Health Information

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IU Maurer School of Law

Last modified: Friday, November 4, 2011

In tribute to Myles Brand, CLEAR fellow will lecture on end-of-life care

Nov. 4, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- George P. Smith II, a visiting fellow at Indiana University's Center for Law, Ethics, and Applied Research (CLEAR) in Health Information, will deliver the center's first public lecture in tribute to his late friend, former IU President Myles N. Brand.

The lecture is titled "Managing End-of-Life Care: Medico-Legal, Social, Ethical, and Philosophical Challenges," and will be presented on Nov. 9 at 4 p.m. The public is invited to attend, inside the Maurer School of Law's Moot Court Room.

George P. Smith II

George P. Smith II

Smith, a professor at The Catholic University of America Law School and CLEAR's first-ever visiting fellow, has devoted significant time throughout his career to the subject of palliative care. His lecture will analyze the two foundational challenges to human health care at the end-state of life: the extent to which a patient with a terminal illness can control his or her treatment options, and the level of state control and intervention in the dying process.

Though the topic may sound morbid, Smith said the issues raised in the lecture will one day affect everyone, in one form or another.

"The topics of death and of dying are a popular concern," Smith said. "There will never be one, unified national consensus on the extent to which the state should protect the dying and allow its members to die a 'good death' without unnecessary suffering and with compassion."

Smith cites a 2006 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center that found an overwhelming majority that supports laws giving patients the right to decide whether they wish to be kept alive through medical treatment at the end-stage of life.

"This finding serves to buttress the conclusion that personal autonomy, and the right to refuse any or all treatment, is a constitutional liberty of high order," Smith said. "It is the responsibility of the state to safeguard and protect this liberty."

Smith is dedicating the CLEAR lecture in honor of Brand, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2009.

"Dr. Brand's courageous battle with cancer was uppermost in my mind when I chose this topic for my lecture," Smith said. "He displayed such strength, courage, and gallantry in his fight. Both in his life and in his death, Dr. Brand has shown all of us how to live a life of purpose and to die with dignity."

Distinguished Professor Fred H. Cate, director of CLEAR and the C. Ben Dutton Professor of Law, said Smith is a tremendous scholar.

"George P. Smith is an internationally recognized authority in health ethics and law," he said. "We are honored to have him as CLEAR's first visiting fellow and are eagerly anticipating his lecture in honor of President Brand."