Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking – VSED as it is called by Hospice and health providers – is an accessible option for the compassionate easing of the pain, suffering, and humiliation of life-limiting illness. VSED is a legal option in all 50 states for a competent adult who wishes to hasten the onset of their death.
Americans assert that they ought to have the freedom to choose in their daily lives. And certainly, we all mourn the circumstances that may bring an individual and their loving family to the decision to step away from life. But in the real world, there are times when an individual will reach out for control at the end of their own life. At such a time, that freedom to choose may involve scheduling the time, deciding the place, and selecting the process that seems appropriate to ease away from life.
We should all be aware that VSED is unique – it is legal, accessible, and supported by medical personnel in every state in the United States. It is time that we gained more understanding about the various aspects of VSED – for the patient and for the family caregiver. That is the purpose of the Southeast VSED End-of-Life Choice Conference.
Many will be surprised to learn that once informed about VSED, patients choose to experience it. VSED allows an individual to comfortably ease away, to still interact with family and friends, and to feel that their passing is a more natural process. For those who focus on Oregon-style medical-aid-in-dying, they sometimes need to be reminded that thousands of patients will be left without a timely option.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.