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‘Volunteering’ to Die

I recently read the story of a daughter’s anguished eyewitness account of her mother’s death. It was a death chosen for the mother by her son and oldest daughter, who decided that starvation was the best thing for a beloved mother who had suffered a stroke.

It was painful to read this account, and as the writer closes, she tells us: “The youngest daughter could do nothing except watch her mother die slowly, and write this, in the hope that my mother’s death, like her life, will have made a difference.”

The article was published in response to the latest tool in the euthanasia movement’s bag of permanent solutions for lives deemed unworthy to be lived. The acronym for this tool is VSED, which stands for “Voluntary Stop Eating and Drinking.” Or to put it another way, volunteering to kill yourself through your choice or that of the person responsible for your “care.”

boatDisturbed by this practice, the Patients Rights Council penned a fact sheet about VSED. This is a document that should be read carefully by every single human being concerned with health care for an elderly or dying loved one—or one’s self. The document explains many things, including the fact that, contrary to popular claims, VSED is not painless: “Many advocates of VSED say it is painless, however their claim is based on the requirement that individuals receive medical supervision including pain and symptom control as they dehydrate to death. . . . Without powerful sedatives and other palliative measures (and, sometimes even with such measures), dehydration deaths have been described as horrific.”

This is merely the tip of the “die now or we will kill you” movement, also known by such terms as compassion or right to personal autonomy. Compassion & Choices—an avid proponent of VSED and the group most closely associated with Brittany Maynard’s pre-suicide video—defines it in a booklet as the choice of a patient who wishes to die sooner than later and thus refuses to eat or drink. This organization tells us that a VSED choice can only be made by a patient who is “decisionally capable” and has the “physical ability to eat and drink.”

Such a definition is simply a description of suicide.

On this topic Dr. Kevin Yuill writes,

Those who support assisted dying but not suicide must ask why they approve of a terminally-ill person taking her life when they take a zero tolerance approach to other suicides. The similarities are there. Most of the reasons put forward for allowing assisted death can be reasons for any suicide. If autonomy is important, why isn’t the autonomy of those without a terminal illness?

Indeed, this is a conundrum that the culture of death is obligated to explain, but of course it cannot. Instead, such individuals and organizations move forward with the force of a tornado doing all they can to suggest, subliminally and otherwise, that personal autonomy is the only thing that matters when a human being is either contemplating suicide due to illness or preparing an end-of-life document that puts others in the untenable position of agreeing that a patient who cannot speak for himself would be better off dead.

In the current atmosphere of killing instead of caring, VSED becomes a very good idea to those who want quick relief from unselfishly caring for a loved one.

Consider the mother mentioned in the beginning of this article. Contrast her daughter’s agony about her death with Lehigh University bioethicist, Dena Davis, who has published articles on “pre-emptive suicide.” She argues that, in the case of a patient with severe dementia, the patient should not be denied his stated desire to voluntarily stop eating and drinking. In fact, she says that waiting too long to starve a patient is “too little, too late.” Why? Davis tells us that, by that time, “you lost your dignity a long time ago; you’ve probably been a burden on your family for six or seven years.”

Wow! What a perfect, textbook attitude for a culture of death devotee.

And Davis’ crude remark brings us full circle, doesn’t it?

This is indeed a battle between good and evil. It would serve each of us well to contemplate and teach what St. John Paul II said on this very subject: “Man is not the absolute master and final judge, but rather—and this is where his incomparable greatness lies—he is the ‘minister of God’s plan.’”

It is our responsibility to not only inform ourselves of these ghastly end-of-life measures, but to then inform others. There are many ways we can do this, and ways in which we can prevent them:

1. Pray for those who have been victimized (killed) by the ill-conceived actions of their caregivers.

2. Ask your family and friends to read this commentary, check out all the links, and take action to protect their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. It is never too early to take pro-life action.

3. Protect your loved ones by reviewing ALL’s Loving Will documents. If you see a problem with your current one, get it revoked and contact ALL for a Loving Will package.