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What is voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED)?

VSED is a decision made by an adult with decision-making capacity to stop further intake of food and fluids with the goal of hastening their death. It is an intentional and voluntary (non-coerced) choice to hasten death by a person with decision-making capacity who suffers intolerably from an incurable and progressive, or terminal illness. VSED is distinguished from the usual diminished appetite often experienced by persons close to death in that it is a conscious decision to speed the dying process. It has been a traditional means of dying in the home for generations and is often thought of as a “natural” way of dying. While it is rarely a suffering person’s first choice to hasten death, it is often the only legal means available for patient-controlled dying.

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