Anorexic woman from Wales to be force fed, judge orders

Scales of Justice The case was brought by the woman's local authority

A woman with "severe" anorexia who wanted to be allowed to die is to be force fed in her "best interests" by order of a High Court judge.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson declared that the 32-year-old from Wales, who cannot be identified, did not have the capacity to make decisions for herself.

He made public his judgment on Friday after making the ruling last month.

But Glyn Davies, Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, used Twitter to criticise the judge's ruling.

He tweeted: "Shocking that judge orders anorexic Welsh woman be force fed against her will.

The BMA's Tony Calland says sometimes the law is needed to make a judgement in very difficult cases

"She should be allowed to die with dignity. Shameful decision".

The case was brought by the woman's local authority, which also cannot be identified.

The court heard that the woman - known only as E - had altered her living will.

Initially, it said she wanted to die when the time came and she did not want to be revived.

Later, she said she wanted to live and wanted to make her own decisions about her future.

'Care regime'

The judge, sitting in the Court of Protection, said it was a "a very difficult decision" for him to make because it required "a balance to be struck between the weight objectively to be given to life on one hand and to personal independence on the other".

Start Quote

She does not seek death, but above all she does not want to eat or to be fed”

End Quote Mr Justice Peter Jackson Court of Protection

Giving his reasons, the judge said that although she was "gravely unwell, she is not incurable".

He said: "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."

When her case was brought to the court last month by the unnamed local authority the judge said: "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."

He revealed that the "intelligent and charming" woman began to control her eating at the age of 11 and had not taken solid food for over a year.

The judge said the balancing exercise had to be intuitive and considering all the factors.

He added: "On one side, I have been struck by the fact that the people who know E best do not favour further treatment. They think that she has had enough and believe that her wishes should be respected.

"They believe she should be allowed a dignified death."

'Intelligent woman'

He acknowledged that her parents were in an "impossible" position and that "does not merely entail bodily intrusion of the most intimate kind, but the overbearing of E's will in a way that she experiences as abusive".

The judge said that E's own views were "entitled to high respect" adding: "She is not a child or a very young adult, but an intelligent and articulate woman, and the weight to be given to her view of life is correspondingly greater."

He said that he also had regard to the fact that the application was only brought after E and her family and carers had embarked a long way down the course of palliative treatment.

He said: "The state is now seeking to intervene very late in the day and a return to compulsion will be excruciating for them."

The judge added: "E is a special person, whose life is of value. She does not see it that way now, but she may in future.

"I would not overrule her wishes if further treatment was futile, but it is not. Although extremely burdensome to E, there is a possibility that it will succeed.

"Services and funding will now be provided that were not available before and it would not be right to turn down the final chance of helping this very vulnerable young woman."

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