The new technologies that allow us to prolong life have raised many questions of medical ethics. What is “quality of life?” Who determines or defines this concept? Is This Life Worth Living? examines the different cases of families forced to ask such questions.Their difficult circumstances and their varying reactions are rendered without bias, leaving the audience to continue the debate and grapple with the issues presented.
The plight of comatose patients and their families received national attention when the parents of Karen Quinlan won a legal battle to have her removed from an artificial respirator. The case raised many questions regarding the medical ethics and the new technologies that have allowed us to prolong life.
Is This Life Worth Living? examines families forced to ask these questions. Not only do relatives face tough choices, but they also must bear staggering hospital bills. Though their situations maybe similar, each family in this documentary has a different position on these issues. The Barash family of Florida is angry that their son Jimmy was saved at birth by extraordinary measures, against their will. Born two months premature, Jimmy, now twelve, weighs 33 pounds. He is blind and suffers from developmental delays, as well as crippling cerebral palsy. In contrast, the story of Tony Mirco represents a family’s struggle to keep their son alive. Tony was involved in a serious automobile accident, while serving as a U.S. Marine at Camp Pendleton and sustained extensive brain damage. Against the advice of medical professionals, the Mirco family insisted on his recovery. Tony now defies expectations and is responding well to an exhaustive rehabilitation program.
In addition to these and other cases, the video presents interviews with the Quinlan family, and the mother of Elaine Esposito. Known as “Sleeping Beauty,”; Elaine fell into a coma at the age of six, which lasted for 37 years until her death. Is This Life Worth Living? presents these cases without bias, and leaves the audience to grapple with the questions posed throughout the documentary. The video is an ideal prelude to discussions related to the topics of medical ethics and dying with dignity.