Utah Philosopher Discusses “Least Worst Death” in Lawrence University Biomedical Ethics Series Lecture

The often virulent arguments for and against the controversial subject of physician-assisted suicide and how each side is relevant to the question of what constitutes “the least worst death” will be examined in the final installment of Lawrence University’s 2005-06 Edward F. Mielke Lecture Series in Biomedical Ethics.

Margaret Battin, distinguished professor of philosophy and adjunct professor of internal medicine, division of medical ethics, at the University of Utah, presents “The Least Worst Death? The Disputes over Physician-Assisted Suicide,” Wednesday, April 12 at 7 p.m. in Lawrence’s Wriston Art Center auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

In her address, Battin will challenge both the conventional arguments for physician-assisted suicide — people should have the freedom to do as they want, including dying when and how they wish with the help of a physician and people are entitled to avoid pain and suffering in the face of a terminal illness — as well as those arguments against legalization — that it is intrinsically wrong to kill, that physician-assisted suicide would threaten the integrity of the medical profession and the “slippery slope” notion that it would lead to abuse.

An award-winning writer, Battin is the author, editor or co-editor of 15 books, among them 2005’s “Ending Life: Ethics and the Way We Die.” She’s also written “The Least Worst Death: Essays in Bioethics on the End of Life,” and “Physician-Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate.” Her current writing projects include a historical sourcebook on ethical issues in suicide and a book on world population growth and reproductive rights.

A member of the University of Utah faculty since 1975, Battin has been recognized with the university’s Distinguished Research Award and the Rosenblatt Prize, Utah’s most prestigious award.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from of Bryn Mawr College and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction-writing and a doctorate degree in philosophy from the University of California, Irvine.

Battin’s appearance is supported by the Edward F. Mielke Lectureship in Ethics in Medicine, Science and Society. The lectureship was established in 1985 by the Mielke Family Foundation in memory of Dr. Edward F. Mielke, a leading member of the Appleton medical community and the founder of the Appleton Medical Center.