Another of them, suicide, is written about in the Culture of Life blog.
“We’re thrilled so many people are calling and writing for information on VSED and other peaceful, legal end-of-life options.”
“This post on the Compassion & Choices (C&C) website signals one of the right-to-die movement’s most skillful strategies of recent years.
“VSED stands for “voluntary stopping of eating and drinking.” In 2011, C&C launched a nation wide campaign entitled, “Peace at Life’s End — Anywhere” to educate people on the virtues of VSED as a legally protected way of committing suicide in all 50 states. Since suicide is no longer criminalized, and competent persons cannot be forced to eat and drink, patients who want to die are advised to choose to stop eating and drinking.
“A case study published last fall on Medscape by Arthur L. Caplan, head of Bioethics at New York University Medical Center, revisits the topic. A man in his eighties hospitalized by a series of minor strokes was told by his doctors that he could no longer live independently at home but would need to go to a nursing home. The proud World War II veteran found the prospect so repugnant that he withdrew permission from his nurses to turn him in bed, understanding that in so doing he risked developing serious skin ulcers (bed sores). His doctors and nurses warned him that the ulcers would grow painful and eventually cause infections that could kill him. He told them that this is what he wanted to happen. Psychiatric evaluations determined that he was competent which ruled out court authorized force-feeding on grounds of incompetence. At length, the man died in the hospital, covered with huge bedsores. “Basically, his body fell apart,” Caplan reports.
“The story illustrates the limitations on caregiving when patient consent is refused.
“Caplan likens the man’s refusal to the refusal of life support such as dialysis and ventilators. Because such decisions are guaranteed by patient autonomy, patients have a “right” to say to caregivers “don’t turn me.” But Caplan also defends the right of healthcare institutions to establish policies stating that they always turn people in bed when needed. Thus he frames the ethical question in terms of a conflict of rights between patient autonomy and the rights of institutions: “The nurses cannot work if the unit becomes a smelly, untenable mess, and although this man had his rights, other people have their rights too…. That is a tradeoff that has to be weighed at all times.”