Anorexic and bulimic woman dies after court orders end to force-feeding

A 30-year-old anorexic and bulimic woman has died in a New Jersey hospital just three months after a court denied a request that she be force-fed.  

The women, identified as “Ashley G” in court papers, had suffered from anorexia nervosa for well over a decade, and had been in hospital since 2014. She had also been diagnosed with chronic depression, according to the state attorney general’s office.

Last year state Department of Human Health Services staff took her to court requesting that she be force-fed, yet Morris County Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong ruled that she instead be moved to palliative care.

“Whether grounded in common law or constitutional law, our courts have uniformly recognized a patient’s right to refuse medical treatment as a fundamental tenet of respect for patient autonomy, dignity and self-determination,” Armstrong ruled last November.

The woman told the judge that she would resist force-feedings, which are administered through a tube inserted through the nose and pushed down the throat.

The woman was represented by Edward D'Alessandro Jr., an attorney who in the 1970s successfully fought to have 21-year-old Karen Ann Quinlan -- who was in a persistent vegetative state after mixing alcohol with Valium at a party -- removed from life-support so that she could die.

“It [force feeding] would have amounted to torture and we would have been at the same result,” D’Alessandro told the New York Post. “The court chose the correct and compassionate path.”

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | consent, force-feeding, law, palliative care

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