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Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking Is Legal—and Ethical—for Terminally Ill Patients Looking to Hasten Death

by Thaddeus Mason Pope, J.D. The Asco Post, June 25, 2018

Attorney and law professor Thad Pope discusses the fact that Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) is legally more accessible to terminally ill patients than Medical or Physician Aid in Dying and that it is becoming more accepted by physicians as a legitimate way to hasten death. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia recently confirmed the legality of using voluntarily stopping eating and drinking to hasten death in terminally ill patients. Pope believes that “Because of shared common law principles and history, these Canadian decisions have persuasive force in the United States.” The Hawaii legislature expressly recognized the legality of voluntarily stopping eating and drinking in April 2018. He notes that attempts to feed a patient who does not consent to food/hydration would be considered a battery.

Pope cites references to support his statement: “Unlike some other types of medically assisted death, both data-driven studies and voluminous anecdotal evidence show that voluntarily stopping eating and drinking is peaceful, painless, and dignified.”

“Oncologists should be prepared to discuss voluntarily stopping eating and drinking as a means to hasten death with their terminally ill patients who ask about it.”
— Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD

Read the full article about legal issues regarding Voluntarily stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) in terminally ill patients.

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