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Freedom of Choice at the End of Life

By New York Law School Law Review

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Symposium held on Friday, November 16, 2012 at New York Law School. Cosponsored with the Justice Action Center and the Diane Abbey Law Center for Children and Families. The concept that individuals have the right to choose the manner and time of their death and the right to decline unwanted treatment has been a relatively recent development, as is the law that a person does not lose these rights upon incapacity. Individual rights are not uniformly recognized in practice, however, and there are many limits on when and how they can be enforced. This conference addressed a broad range of issues including impediments to honoring those rights, advance planning tools for persons to ensure compliance with their choices and how to enforce them, legislative and decisional developments, surrogate decision-making for patients whose wishes are not known, pain management and palliative care, hospice, aid in dying, ethical dilemmas in decision-making, medical ineffectiveness of treatment (“futility”), concerns of persons with disabilities, the effect of religion on law and policy, and how the media treats these issues. For more information go to