Response to March 14 Colorado Sun story: “Denver doctor helped patients with severe anorexia obtain aid-in-dying medication, spurring national ethics debate”
Mar 18, 2022
Medical aid-in-dying laws apply only to mentally capable, terminally ill patients with six months or less to live who are able to self-ingest the medication. Any deviation from these requirements violates the law and places physicians, family members and others in regulatory, civil and criminal jeopardy. This law does not and was never intended to apply to a person whose only diagnosis is anorexia nervosa.
There is a rigorous multistep medical practice in place designed to ensure that only those patients who meet these very specific criteria are eligible to access this compassionate option at the end of life. This process relies on the judgment of qualified medical professionals who are trained to make a determination on which patients qualify. A physician who violates the law is subject to not only disciplinary charges from their state’s medical board and could lose their license, but could also face criminal charges resulting in prison time.
It is important to recognize that medical aid in dying has been practiced for decades. These laws provide needed relief to terminally ill Americans while contributing to improvements in palliative care, hospice care and advance care planning, and are desperately needed.
Chief Legal Advocacy Officer
Compassion & Choices