Human Exceptionalism

Judge Orders Anorexic Woman Force Fed

I don’t even see why this is controversial. An anorexic woman was refusing to eat in the UK–and a judge has ordered her force fed. From the court ruling:

E is a 32-year-old woman who suffers from extremely severe anorexia nervosa, and other chronic health conditions. On 18 May 2012, an urgent application was made to the Court of Protection by her local authority, which was concerned that her position should be investigated and protected. E’s death was imminent. She was refusing to eat, and was taking only a small amount of water. She was being looked after in a community hospital under a palliative care regime whose purpose was to allow her to die in comfort.

Is that what it’s come to now? A clearly mentally ill woman was going to be assisted in dying by a hospital even though her destructive behavior was unquestionably the consequences of severe mental illness? This reminds of the awful Kerrie Wooltorton case, in which a woman swallowed antifreeze to kill herself and because she had a note on her chest saying she didn’t want treatment, the hospital allowed her to die.  It’s also reminiscent of the US case in which a man cut off  his own hand thinking he saw the sign of the devil on it–and doctors refused to reattach it. Even though E’s parents–clearly having weathered a terrible time–supported their daughter’s refusal to eat, the case had a different outcome because an expert psychiatrist cared enough to take action:

E’s case has raised for the first time in my experience the real possibility of life-sustaining treatment not being in the best interests of a person who, while lacking capacity, is fully aware of her situation. She is in many ways the opposite of a PVS patient or a person with an inevitably fatal condition. She is described as an intelligent and charming person. Albeit gravely unwell, she is not incurable. She does not seek death, but above all she does not want to eat or to be fed. She sees her life as pointless and wants to be allowed to make her own choices, realising that refusal to eat must lead to her death. Her situation requires a balance to be struck between the weight objectively to be given to life on one hand and to personal independence on the other.

A suicidal person should be prevented by the state from killing themselves–whether it is jumping off a bridge or starving oneself to death. Good for the judge for resisting the “autonomy uber alles” zeitgeist and saving this young woman’s life! By the way, don’t think the prescribed suicide crowd wouldn’t support giving her the overdose if she asked.  It’s happened before to an anorexic woman in the Netherlands–as I chronicled in Forced Exit. HT: Bioedge

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

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