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What are the benefits of refusing food and fluids to end one's life?

Barbara Coombs Lee
Hospice Nursing
The purposeful refusal of food and fluids -- in medical jargon known as voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) -- features these benefits: 
  • It requires no special laws or regulations. VSED is legal -- for patients and their caregivers -- today, in every state.
  • It requires determination and resolve, so no one can claim a person choosing VSED is acting impulsively or under coercion.
  • It is broadly available. Even those who do not meet the strict six-month terminal prognosis required under Washington and Oregon’s Death with Dignity laws can legally stop eating and drinking.
  • Death approaches slowly, typically within one to three weeks, so loved ones have time to gather, celebrate the life and love of the person preparing to leave them and grieve together.
  • People with religious objections to aid in dying often accept a loved one‘s VSED choice and feel no moral condemnation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.