Facing Death: End of life decisions

Reykjavik, Iceland, University of Iceland, 15 September

While developments in modern medicine have increased the possibilities of prolonging life and treating symptoms of incurably ill patients, prolonging life is not always considered the most appropriate goal of medicine for terminally ill patients. In order to diminish suffering, end of life care sometimes includes interventions that may lead to the hastening of death. Whether or not such care can or should include the possibility of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is increasingly debated. At least since 2002, when the Netherlands and Belgium became the first countries in the world to legalize euthanasia, there has been a growing interest in many Western countries to take similar legislative action. Four states in the US have legalised PAS followed by Canada in June 2016. The latest landmarks in Europe include the law passed by the Belgian legislature 2014, which permits the euthanasia of children. In September 2015 a bill on assisted dying was declined in the House of Commons in the UK.Although assisted death or euthanasia is not allowed in any of the Nordic countries surveys show growing support among the public for it. The data from the European Values Study (EVS) shows for instance that acceptance of euthanasia in Iceland has increased substantially from 1984 when nearly half of the adult population was of the opinion that euthanasia was never or hardly ever justifiable to being supported by 75% in a survey published in 2016. Also there have been some cases of individuals going to Switzerland for this service. The aim of this conference is to discuss the ways in which the Nordic countries can learn from the experience on assisted death in Europe and North America.
For medical professions, policy makers and academics.

The conference will be organised in cooperation with the Centre for Ethics at the University of Iceland.

Hard Choices in Nordic Health Care – Expensive treatments and priority settings

Stockholm, Sweden, 20 November

When a patient is diagnosed with a rare diagnosis or a mortal disease, medicine and life-prolonging treatment should be offered. However, the required medicines and treatments are often expensive, and economic resources are limited. This presents public health care with some hard choices. There is a strong moral justification not to deny treatment because of cost; however, given limited resource within public health care we may have to choose whom to treat or whether to cut costs within other needed services instead. With this conference, the Nordic Committee for Bioethics aims to highlight fundamental ethical principles that should guide the priority settings in the modern health care.

The conference is aimed at medical professionals, policy makers, academics and the general public, and is a follow-up of the NCBio workshop "Hard Choices in Nordic Health Care – Expensive treatments and priority settings", held in Stockholm in November 2015.

The conference is organised in cooperation with the Swedish Society of Medicine.