The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 19, Issue 3, Autumn 2019

Lisa Honkanen, MD
Pages 415-427

Collaboration with Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking

Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED) is an increasingly popular method by which patients are choosing to hasten death when life feels unbearable. This formal act of suicide often leads to distressing symptoms, for which patients then seek palliation by medical professionals. The intentional act of hastening death is always an evil act. A Catholic physician must understand the moral implications of participating in any phase of the patient’s planning and execution of the VSED process, including cooperation in evil and scandal. The Catholic physician must strive to develop a well-formed conscience and then be prepared to exercise his or her right to conscientious objection while offering an example of true compassion for the sick, the suffering, and the dying.