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Reimagine: Life, Loss, & Love
This event was part of Reimagine: Life, Loss, & Love

Voluntarily Stopping Eating & Drinking (VSED): An Overview

Voluntarily Stopping Eating & Drinking (VSED): An Overview
Voluntarily stopping eating and drinking will be discussed as a peaceful, legal option to hasten death.

Increasing numbers of suffering New Yorkers are looking for ways to achieve a peaceful death that does not put their loved ones in legal jeopardy. They seek a legal means to hasten death when they conclude that their suffering has become intolerable. New York State does not yet provide a legal means for a physician’s medical aid in dying (MAID), and even when such a law is passed, many suffering New Yorkers will be excluded as candidates. In order to be eligible for MAID, two physicians must confirm the patient is terminally ill AND decisionally-capable when the request is made. Thus, those who are diagnosed with dementia or other conditions that impact cognitive capacity, will not be eligible for MAID. For those individuals, as well as others who fear a future death that will leave them without decision capacity, the option of voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) while decisionally-capable provides a legal option to hasten death.

This presentation will include background clinical and legal information about VSED, how it can be used for a peaceful, gentle death, and a video presentation of an elderly woman who chose a VSED death. The video was lovingly made by her daughter with her consent, and covers the duration of her "fast."

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A.


Judith Schwarz, PhD is the Clinical Director at End of Life Choices New York. A PhD prepared nurse, she is one of the most experienced and highly respected end of life counselors in the country. She has counseled hundreds of patients suffering from incurable and progressive or terminal illnesses, and their families, about end of life options.

Click here to learn more about our counseling services.

Talk, Panel, & Conversation