A patient in his nineties and in decline chooses the only legal way in most of the United States to hasten his death: He stops eating and drinking. His doctor wonders whether that is just or compassionate.

This is the situation David Muller writes about in his Narrative Matters essay in the October issue of Health Affairs. You can read the essay yourself, or you can listen to the author read it. Doctor Muller is the dean for medical education at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, where he works in Mount Sinai’s Visiting Doctors Program.

Visit the free Narrative Matters essay archive. Narrative Matters is published with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.