Politics & Policy

The Corner

Judge Right to Order Feeding of Anorexic Woman

The primary purpose of society is to protect the lives of its citizens–even when they might not want their lives protected.

That is why suicidal people can be involuntarily hospitalized for treatment–except for the terminally ill in five states, which is a terrible abandonment and statement of inequality.

So too, people with serious mental illnesses whose condition can be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt to be a threat to their own safety. That is why a New Jersey judge is correct to grant medical decision-making rights to parents of an anorexic woman whose illness endangers her life. From the Daily Mail story:

Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong found that her physicians have determined she does not understand the risks to her life by not eating and she has a chance of recovery through her parents’ guardianship.

The Parsippany resident weighed 60 pounds in June when she was taken to a clinic in Princeton and has since gained 15 pounds.

S.A.’s physical condition reached a crisis point and her brother found her collapsed in their Parsippany home.

The medical doctors and S.A.’s psychiatrist said S.A. is delusional and in denial about her risk of dying, the judge said. S.A. has stated, he said: ‘Being in treatment is torture.’ She has said she would choose death over treatment, the judge said.

This would seem obvious. But these days, often we are so confused about “choice” that we stand back and allow mentally ill people to destroy their own lives.

A classic example of this abandonment happened several years ago when UK doctors allowed Kerry Woolterton to die slowly from swallowing anti-freeze because she wrote a note saying she didn’t want to be saved. Her death is on them.

Then, there is the woman euthanized in the Netherlands as a “treatment” for the suffering caused by her anorexia. 

Thank goodness we are not yet that far gone. Let us hope S.A. finds her way and lives to thank her parents for saving her life.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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