For Bioethicist With Ailing Spouse, End-Of-Life Issues Hit Home

After writing books and essays about end-of-life issues, and
advocating for the right to die, bioethicist Margaret Battin is wrestling with
the issue in her own family. Her husband, Brooke Hopkins, an English professor
at the University of Utah, where she also teaches, broke his neck in a bicycle
accident in 2008, leaving him with quadriplegia and dependent on life support
technology. In order to breathe, he requires a ventilator some of the time and
a diaphragmatic pacer all the time. He receives his nutrition through a feeding
tube. Hopkins gives him the right to decline this technology, and although he's
chosen to keep living, there have been times he's told his wife he wants to
die, and she's had to decide how literally to interpret his words. In her
academic life, Battin has also had to reflect on the positions she's taken in
the past to see if she still believes in them. She and her husband are in their
early 70s. She's a distinguished professor of philosophy and still teaches
full-time. When Hopkins is doing well, and not suffering from one of the many
infections that have plagued him since the accident, he's able to do some
teaching from his home, talk with friends who come to visit, go on walks with
his wife and even occasionally get taken to a concert or museum.

Listen to the full story at NPR.

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