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Understanding MAID: Medical Aid in Dying

Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) is the voluntary termination of one’s own life by self-administration of a lethal substance (or combination of medications), with the direct or indirect assistance of a physician. It is the practice of providing a competent patient with a prescription for medication for the patient to use with the primary intention of ending his or her own life. It has also been referred to as physician-assisted death (PAD), physician-assisted suicide, or death with dignity.


The Choice and Motivation

As hospice nurses working in Oregon, the first state to legalize PAD, we have had the honor of witnessing many patients exercise their personal choice and legal right to end their life with the assistance of medication.

Exploring Patient Motivations

General belief for this choice is that palliation or treatment of symptoms causing suffering has failed, but in our experience this is not the reason they reach for this option. In the circle of life we gladly accept that as infants and children we are dependent on others to care for us and meet our basic needs. It is at the end of this continuum when our body energies fade, we once again become dependent on others. Not wanting to lose control of bodily functions and require physical care is more often the reason patients choose MAID in our professional experience. The wish to avoid dependence upon others and ultimately retain final control of their life is their priority.

Legal Status of MAID

There are currently eleven states that have legalized MAID. You may search the web for your State’s law regarding its use. There are numerous entries with discussions regarding the moral and ethical ramifications of these laws.

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