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Bill Moyers with Jim Witcher There is a great divide separating the kind of care Americans say they want at the end of life and what our culture currently provides. Surveys show that we want to die at home, free of pain, surrounded by the people we love. But the vast majority of us die in the hospital, alone, and experiencing unnecessary discomfort. Bill Moyers goes from the bedsides of the dying to the front lines of a movement to improve end-of-life care in ON OUR OWN TERMS: Moyers on Dying. Two years in production, this four-part, six-hour series crosses the country from hospitals to hospices to homes to capture some of the most intimate stories ever filmed and the most candid conversations ever shared with a television audience.

ON OUR OWN TERMS: Moyers on Dying was produced by Public Affairs Television, Inc. and presented on PBS by Thirteen/WNET New York. Video tapes of the series may be ordered by calling Films of the Humanities at 1-800-257-5126.

-Get the program Discussion Guide (requires Adobe Acrobat 4.0 )

ON OUR OWN TERMS will be followed by WITH EYES OPEN, a four-part national series that is designed to spark community conversations about grief, mortality, caregiving and the afterlife. For more information, go to WITH EYES OPEN Online.


Program 1 Clip
ALS patient Nancy Martinez is cared for in Florida.
Dying is a part of life that each person, in every American community, approaches with different attitudes, beliefs and wishes. As the process of dying is prolonged by advances in medical knowledge, we face increasingly complicated choices as individuals and as a society. And most of us don’t want to talk about it. Through the personal accounts of people facing death, "Living With Dying" explores the choices we make at the end of life.

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Program 2 Clip
Dr. Richard Payne talks about palliative care. Dr. Greg Gramelspacher on bringing palliative care to poor communities.
While terminal patients now live longer, for many, that means living with pain. Improvements in pain medication and a growing understanding of the role of palliative care, or "comfort care," is changing that. When there is no hope for a cure, palliative care doctors shift their focus to helping patients live as comfortably as possible, responding to physical, emotional and psychological needs. "A Different Kind of Care" introduces viewers to palliative care doctors and their patients as they work hand in hand to make the dying process more tolerable.

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Program 3 Clip
Kitty Rayle, an Oregon resident talks about physician-assisted suicide.
We fear dying in pain, we fear that too much will be done to keep us alive, or we fear that not enough will be done. What are the options? Who makes the choices? When is the right moment for final decisions? "A Death of One's Own" addresses the debate over physician- assisted suicide, where the critical issue is less the right to die, than the way to live when choices are circumscribed by practical realities.

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Program 4 Clip
Nurse Cassandra Jackson talks about hospice work.
An extraordinary public hospital program in Birmingham, Alabama offers an inspiring model for what health care could be for the dying and their families. The Balm of Gilead project works to introduce hospice ideas into maintream health care with the help of its dedicated staff. Patching together an operating budget from Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, church donations, foundation grants and a county indigent fund, the Balm of Gilead weaves a safety net for the dying from underserved and economically disadvantaged communities. As the population ages, these financial challenges are growing more acute. In "A Time to Change," viewers will be introduced to both caregivers and policy reformers who are working at providing better end-of-life-care.

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To Order ON OUR OWN TERMS Video Tapes:
The complete, four-part ON OUR OWN TERMS series can be obtained on video tape from Films of the Humanities (1-800-257-5126) . For ON OUR OWN TERMS clip reels, please contact the appropriate outreach agency or your local public television station. Given limited supplies, clip reels are available only on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Funding for this landmark PBS series and the companion outreach campaign is provided by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; The Fetzer Institute; The Nathan Cummings Foundation; The Kohlberg Foundation, Inc.; The Laurance S. Rockefeller Fund; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and Mutual of America Life Insurance Company.