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An Alternative to Physician-Assisted Suicide or Voluntary Active Euthanasia
James L. Bernat, MD;
Bernard Gert, PhD;
R. Peter Mogielnicki, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(24):2723-2731.
Since this article does not have an abstract, we have provided the first 150 words of the full text PDF and any section headings.
PUBLIC AND scholarly debates on legalizing physician-assistedsuicide (PAS) and voluntary active euthanasia (VAE) have increaseddramatically in recent years.1-5 These debates have highlighteda significant moral controversy between those who regard PASand VAE as morally permissible and those who do not. Unfortunately,the adversarial nature of this controversy has led both sidesto ignore an alternative that avoids moral controversy altogetherand has fewer associated practical problems in its implementation.In this article, we suggest that educating chronically and terminallyill patients about the feasibility of patient refusal of hydrationand nutrition (PRHN) can empower them to control their own destinywithout requiring physicians to reject the taboos on PAS andVAE that have existed for millennia. To be feasible, this alternativerequires confirmation of the preliminary scientific evidencethat death by starvation and dehydration need not be accompaniedby suffering.