A Debate: Is Assisted Dying Moral?

April 09-09, 2024
Stanford University
5:00 pm PST

Does a moral society medically assist someone's choice to die?

As Western nations have become increasingly comfortable with assisting citizens in death, questions not merely on its legality, but its very ethics, are being raised across the globe. The act is not only allowed by countries like Spain and Belgium, but is actively celebrated in some places, like Canada, where it is hailed as an achievement in human dignity. But what are the obligations and rights that we have when it comes to the end of our lives? What goods ought a society protect? 

Can a period replace the question mark looming over assisted dying? 

Join the Intercollegiate Studies Institute at Stanford University on April 9th, 2024, for a lively debate on one of the most pressing ethical dilemmas the West confronts! The evening starts with a reception at 5pm PST. Then, Ross Douthat and Kimberly Callinan will go head-to-head on this timely question at 6pm PST. 

Email Micah Veillon at mveillon@isi.org with questions or concerns. 

Meet the Debaters

Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat joined The New York Times as an Opinion columnist in April 2009. His column appears every Tuesday and Sunday. He is also a host on the weekly Opinion podcast, “Matter of Opinion.” Previously, he was a senior editor at The Atlantic and a blogger on its website.

Kimberly Callinan

Kim Callinan has served on the Compassion & Choices leadership team for eight years, first as chief program officer and for the past five years as the organization’s president and chief executive officer. During her combined tenure at Compassion & Choices, Kim has played a leadership role in authorizing and implementing medical aid in dying in six new jurisdictions, including the recent passage of New Mexico’s End of Life Options Act. She was instrumental in drafting Compassion & Choices’ current five-year strategic plan, implemented in 2018, which prioritized the creation of a diverse, equitable and inclusive movement. She also launched our Finish Strong initiative designed to empower patients to take charge of the final chapter of their lives, with a specific focus on helping people plan for a possible dementia diagnosis and closing the disparities in end-of-life care and planning that exist for communities of color. Kim frequently speaks at conferences, testifies before state legislatures, conducts policy briefings and serves on committees as a subject-matter expert on end-of-life care options. 

Prior to joining Compassion & Choices, Kim spent two decades creating integrated campaigns to engineer social change, including campaigns to reduce the number of uninsured Americans and improve children’s health, and political campaigns at the federal, state and local levels.

Kim holds a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland Global Campus, a bachelor’s degree in government from Oberlin College and a certificate in the fundamentals of gerontology through a joint program offered by the American Society on Aging and the University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology. She also recently received an end-of-life doula certificate from the University of Vermont.  

Leah Libreso Sargeant (moderator)

Leah Sargeant is a former atheist who converted to Catholicism in 2012. Her writing has appeared in the New York TimesFirst Things, and FiveThirtyEight. She runs Other Feminisms, a Substack community focused on interdependence. 

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