• 2015’s Most Memorable Death Essays and More

    2015 was a good year for death. Without much hesitation writers and editors both agreed that death topics sold copy/generated clicks so the stories kept…

  • Necrophilia Laws and Abusing the Corpse at the Morbid Anatomy Museum

    Abusing the Corpse Even More: Understanding Necrophilia Laws in the USA — Now with more Necro! And more Philia! An Illustrated Lecture by Dr. John…

  • Breaking News: People REALLY DO Want to Discuss Death and Dying with Doctors

    Coverage for End-of-Life Talks Gaining Ground Pam Belluck, The New York Times (August 31, 2014) Medicare may cover advance care planning that was once decried…

  • Day 28: Full Transcript of House of Lords Debate on Assisted Dying

    Assisted Dying Bill: 2nd Reading on July 18, 2014 United Kingdom House of Lords Hansard (Published July 21, 2014) The UK’s House of Lords has…

  • Day 25: Death Row Prisoners’ Final Statements and Meals

    From America’s Busiest Death Chamber, a Catalog of Last Rants, Pleas and Apologies Manny Fernandez, The New York Times (June 29, 2013) Texas has executed…

  • Day 21: Dealing with Dead Bodies in Mass Fatality Events

    Dutch Investigators Finally Gain Access to MH17 Remains Caroline Bankoff, Daily Intelligencer (July 21, 2014) Last week’s shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in…

  • Day 20: Patrick Stewart Campaigns with Assisted Dying Supporters

    Actor Patrick Stewart joins campaign for ‘assisted dying’
    BBC News (July 18, 2014)

    Somehow, and I don’t entirely know the reasons, I completely missed these interviews with actor Patrick Stewart on the recent House of Lords assisted dying debate.

    He’s got clearly articulated personal reasons for supporting Lord Falconer’s bill and understands how the proposed legislation would work. I also give him credit for supporting a cause that I can imagine some talent agents might suggest you avoid.

    That said, he’s the kind of actor (and big name movie star) who doesn’t flinch when it comes to supporting causes he believes in.

    Good interviews to watch.

    Actor Patrick Stewart joins campaign for ‘assisted dying’ BBC News (July 18, 2014) Somehow, and I don’t entirely know the reasons, I completely missed these…

  • Day 19: Digital Death Bill Marches Onward

    Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Approved
    A new act approved today by a national law group provides comprehensive provisions governing access to digital assets. The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) was approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) at its 123rd Annual Meeting in Seattle
    Uniform Law Commission Press Release (July 16, 2014)

    The Death Reference Desk has been so busy this week with all things assisted dying that we missed an important development in the digital death world.

    Earlier this week, the Uniform Law Commission approved a new model law that allows access to digital assets, i.e., photos, documents, social media accounts, etc., by a person other than the original owner if an executor is named.

    The ULC develops proposed legislation for potential use by all 50 US States. This particular bill is important for anyone thinking about who or whom will have access to your digital files, assets, properties, e-mails, photos, etc., after you die.

    We’ve only got the press release to work from right now, which isn’t ideal, but there will more to come about the ULC’s approval.

    The approved bill is summed up this way:

    In the modern world, digital assets have largely replaced tangible ones. Documents are stored in electronic files rather than in file cabinets. Photographs are uploaded to web sites rather than printed on paper. However, the laws governing fiduciary access to these digital assets are in need of an update.

     

    The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act [UFADAA] solves the problem using the concept of “media neutrality.” If a fiduciary would have access to a tangible asset, that fiduciary will also have access to a similar type of digital asset. UFADAA governs four common types of fiduciaries: personal representatives of a deceased person’s estate; guardians or conservators of a protected person’s estate; agents under a power of attorney; and trustees.

    But don’t worry, if you want to hide embarrassing e-mail messages or make sure that no one knows about your online shenanigans (we’re not judging) then this proposed legislation covers those situations too.

    Just remember: if you don’t want the kids to know about it, then don’t do it online.

    You can read the bill here.

    Unless, of course, we’re all just living in a digital simulation.

    Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Approved A new act approved today by a national law group provides comprehensive provisions governing access to digital…

  • Day 18: The House of Lords Approves Assisted Dying Bill for Committee Review

    Assisted Dying Bill [HL] 2014-15 Private Members’ Bill (Starting in the House of Lords) Sponsor: Lord Falconer of Thoroton (July 18, 2014) It’s an over…

  • Day 17: Moral Maze Radio Programme on Assisted Dying

    Moral Maze: Assisted Dying BBC Radio 4 (July 16, 2014) The Moral Maze programme on BBC radio is a long-running show dedicated to debating and…

  • Day 16: UK Prime Minister David Cameron Answers Assisted Dying Question

    David Cameron ‘not convinced’ over assisted dying bill
    PM speaks of worry about legalising euthanasia, but says he would be very happy for Commons to debate issue
    Rowena Mason and Agencies, The Guardian (July 16, 2014)

    Today saw another interesting development in the lead up to Friday’s debate on assisted dying in the UK’s House of Lords.

    Prime Minister David Cameron was asked about the upcoming debate during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). The Prime Minister is asked everything and anything by members of parliament during the PMQs and, in theory, has to quickly formulate some kind of response.

    His answer to the assisted dying question was intriguing. He made it clear that he thought the debate should move forward but that he personally didn’t support a change to the law.

    He used the word ‘euthanasia’ in his response, which is a key word choice. The House of Lords is debating an assisted dying law, not a euthanasia law. Assisted dying laws usually mean a person is given a lethal dose of a drug and then that person has to physically administer and ingest the drug in order to die. Euthanasia occurs when one person puts another person to death, i.e., person A injects person B with a drug so that person B will die.

    The words make a significant legal difference for any kind of death with dignity law.

    You can watch video of the entire (relatively short) exchange starting at 28:20.

    I also suggest watching the faces and reactions of the other MPs. It seems that right now many MPs would rather debate anything other than a law on assisted dying. This could change after Friday.

    David Cameron ‘not convinced’ over assisted dying bill PM speaks of worry about legalising euthanasia, but says he would be very happy for Commons to…

  • Day 15: New Developments in the UK Assisted Dying Debate

    Assisted dying: leading doctors call on Lords to back legalisation Twenty-seven leading figures write to every peer urging them to back Lord Falconer’s private members…