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Barbara Bush's End-Of-Life Decision Stirs Debate Over 'Comfort Care'

• https://khn.org/news/barbara-bushs-end-of-life-dec

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush's announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.

Bush, the wife of former President George H.W. Bush, has been suffering from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to family spokesman Jim McGrath.

In a public statement Sunday, the family announced she has decided "not to seek additional medical treatment and will focus on comfort care."

The announcement comes amid a national effort to define and document patients' wishes, and consider alternatives, before they are placed on what has been described as a "conveyor belt" of costly medical interventions aimed at prolonging life.

Ellen Goodman, co-founder of the Conversation Project, which encourages families to discuss and document their end-of-life preferences, applauded the Bush family announcement.

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