December 01, 2015

The Policy and Political Challenges of Being Mortal

Charles P. Sabatino

Editor’s Note: At the ABA Midyear Meeting in February 2015, the Commission on Law and Aging and the Health Law Section will cosponsor a resolution “to support legislation and regulation that promotes access to comprehensive long-term supportive services and care for persons with advanced illness.” In thisarticle, Commission Director Charles P. Sabatino describes the resolution and the reasons therefor. This article was first published in the December 2014 issue of Bifocal, vol. 36, no. 2, and is reprinted with permission.

Two recent publications suggest that as a society we may be getting closer to recognizing and doing something about how we treat our sickest and most vulnerable citizens and their families as they cope with illness near the end of life. The first is the release of a landmark report from the Institute of Medicine, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preference Near the End of Life. The other is the publication of a powerful book by physician-surgeon Atul Gawande: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

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