December 4, 2022

US assisted suicide group opens campaign for voluntary starvation

Campaigners for voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide seem to be trying to make them more acceptable by blurring the moral boundaries. In the Netherland, terminal sedation – death by starvation under heavy sedation – is an increasingly popular with doctors. Now Compassion & Choices, an American lobby group, has launched a public relations campaign for VSED, voluntarily stopping eating and drinking.

Armond and Dorothy Rudolph

Campaigners for voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide seem to be trying to make them more acceptable by blurring the moral boundaries. In the Netherland, terminal sedation – death by starvation under heavy sedation – is an increasingly popular with doctors. Now Compassion & Choices, an American lobby group, has launched a public relations campaign for VSED, voluntarily stopping eating and drinking.

Barbara Coombs Lee, its president, says that this method is “universally available, legal, safe, painless and suitable for a gentle parting in one’s own home with loved ones present.”

Hunger-striking or fasting to death is a familiar political tactic, and is popularly regarded as suicide. In India Anna Hazare has just begun a hunger strike in New Delhi to force the government to crack down on corruption. In Guantánamo Bay, detainees were force-fed to keep them from starving to death. Bobby Sands and nine other IRA activists died in prison of self-imposed starvation in 1981.

So when Armond and Dorothy Rudolph, a New Mexico couple in their 90s, began VSED in January, the staff of their assisted living facility evicted them. They moved into a home where they continued fasting. They died about ten days later.

Now their son, Neil Rudolph, is using their decision to choose “controlled death” to put the case for VSED. “Their eviction shocked me,” he told ABC News. “I think it’s inhuman for mentally competent adults to be overruled at the end of their lives by an assisted living facility administrator, or by anyone else.”

Apart from concerns about bad publicity, the nursing home probably evicted the Rudolphs because the staff feared that they would be charged with neglect, a legal expert told ABC. Their son told the Albuquerque Journal that both suffered from mild dementia as well, which would probably support this allegation.

In the UK, too, VSED is the latest tactic to legalise some form of assisted suicide. Doctors and lawyers are preparing a plea for an unnamed paralysed man to be allowed to starve himself to death., the Guardian reports They will contend that he has a right to end his life in this way and a right to the services of a palliative care doctor to help him. ~ Guardian, Aug 18;  

Michael Cook
assisted suicide