Should People with Anorexia Be Force-Fed?

Last month, a New Jersey judge granted guardianship to the parents of a 20-year-old woman with anorexia nervosa, arguing that the woman is incapable of making her own medical decisions.This clears the way for the parents to take charge of treatment decisions for their daughter — known in court documents as S.A. — including the option of force-feeding.This follows on the heels of the death of a 30-year-old New Jersey woman known as Ashley G., who also had severe anorexia and restricted her food intake.

Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong — the same judge as in S.A.’s case — honored Ashley’s wishes to stop artificial force-feeding.

The judge met with the woman and determined that she seemed to understand the consequences of refusing treatment.

These cases highlight the ethical fine line that doctors and judges must walk in deciding whether someone with anorexia should be treated against their wishes.

Published on the Healthline website on 11.27.17
Written by: Shawn Radcliffe