October 9, 2019

Nevada Dementia Patients Can Now Request to Thirst to Death if Incapacitated

Nevada has passed a law allowing people to request, if they become incapacitated from dementia, that their caregivers thirst and starve them to death. Not only is this problematic because it legalizes a form of assisted suicide, but it could easily require an unwilling caregiver to take part in assisted suicide.

Bioethicist Thaddeus Mason Pope had this to say on the law's passage:
Even after we stop offering food and fluids, other problems may arise. Most problematically, the patient may make gestures or utterances that seem to contradict her prior instructions [to be starved].
Does such communication revoke the advance directive? A recent court case from the Netherlands suggests the answer is “no.” Once the patient reaches late-stage dementia, she is unable to knowingly and voluntarily revoke decisions she made with capacity. But the answer remains uncertain in the United States.
The lives of those suffering from dementia or any other condition are not worthless. This legislation was born out of a culture of ableism and cannot be allowed to stand. Click here to read more.