My second session of summer classes started monday and my medical ethics class has already been more thought provoking than anything else I've taken in the recent past. We're starting with the topic of Advanced Directives and Living Wills, and because there is no philosophy pre-req for the course (Strange because it's a 300 level) we're using it as the teaching framework for the basics of Utilitarianism, Deontology, and Divine Command Ethics.
Our study material includes a few movies, and this weeks was the film 'My Sister's Keeper,' about a young girl with cancer, her family, and specifically her younger sister who was born to be a Savior Child donor for bone marrow, organs, blood, etc.
The biggest personal question the film brought up that I haven't been able to settle on a satisfactory answer to is this, Who is allowed at a death watch? When it is known that a person will die within a few hours/days, who is allowed to be with them at the end? Who isn't allowed? Is it a question of age? Maturity? Closeness of relation? Spoilers following, in My Sister's Keeper, the only person with Kate when she passes is her mother, everyone else having gone home for the night to return the following morning. Do you allow an 11 year old to be present for the passing of her sister? How about a 14 year old brother? How about a 5 year old? Where is the mythological 'Age of Understanding?'