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Medical Jurisprudence

End-of-life

Mitchell Hamline School of Law

2011

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Voluntarily Stopping Eating And Drinking: A Legal Treatment Option At The End Of Life, Thaddeus Mason Pope Jan 2011

Voluntarily Stopping Eating And Drinking: A Legal Treatment Option At The End Of Life, Thaddeus Mason Pope

Faculty Scholarship

Despite the growing sophistication of palliative medicine, many individuals continue to suffer at the end of life. It is well settled that patients, suffering or not, have the right to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment (such as dialysis or a ventilator) through contemporaneous instructions, through an advance directive, or through a substitute decision maker. But many ill patients, including a large and growing population with advanced dementia who are not dependent upon life-sustaining medical treatment, do not have this option. They have the same rights, but there is simply no life-sustaining medical treatment to refuse.

Nevertheless, these patients have another right, …