Should Doctors Help Patients Starve Themselves to Death?

National   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Jan 28, 2014   |   6:46PM   |   Washington, DC

One of the “deliverance” methods often advocated by euthanasia/assisted suicide advocacy groups is “voluntary stop eating and drinking” (VSED). The idea is self-explanatory.

Of course, this could be a difficult and painful thing. The question is thus raised, should doctors assist the process of VSED by providing palliation? The Dutch Medical Association is clearly heading in that direction. From a recent memo to members (Google Translation.)

patient2Aid workers are expected to be increasingly encounter patients who wish to refrain from eating and drinking for hastening death. Aware of the situation Doctors, nurses and carers who can get involved, need a helping hand that allows them to prepare well, to guide and to continue. Adequate palliative care of patients. This helps the patient and his relatives good to go into questions such as: what are the motives of the patient? What comes out? On the patient and his family What palliative care and guidance they can from the doctor, the nurse and the nurse expect?

I understand that doctors and nurses may not be able to force feed in such a case, or put in a feeding tube against the patient’s desires. But should they help make it easier? Doesn’t this make them complicit?

As when Dutch doctors are asked for voluntary euthanasia, the KNMG sees patients’ desires for death as sacrosanct–requiring medical complicity by mandating referral to a colleague willing to facilitate the process:

Some doctors and other health care workers the choice of the patient to refrain from eating and drinking to conscientious objection. They may delegate the care of a colleague, but must be a good counselor remain appropriate care provision associated with consciously refrain from eating and drinking until the time of transfer. Because the guide is paramount that a patient who deliberately refrains from eating and drinking to die faster entitled to receive appropriate care.

What a world when a doctor is expected to help a patient starve to death.



I have no doubt doctors help with VSED here, too–which is not the same thing as when a patient stops eating as part of the natural dying process. This seems akin to a doctor helping a patient self-harm by providing a sanitized blade for use in cutting.

In other words, it contravenes everything medicine should stand for. But these are the times in which we live. Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. Excerpted from his A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement (Encounter, 2010).