A New Jersey woman just won her fight for the right to die. The 29-year-old anorexic woman weighs just 69 pounds and had petitioned a judge in an effort to refuse force-feedings.
The unidentified Morris County anorexic woman has been committed to a psychiatric hospital since 2014. Earlier this month, the woman told the court she does not want to be force-fed either water or food. She also stated she wanted to enter palliative care, CBS News reports.
Palliative care is a specialized type of medical service for individuals with a serious illness. The care focuses primarily on the relief of symptoms of the illness and an overall improvement of the patient’s quality of life as much as possible.
The state opposed the anorexic woman’s request to enter palliative care. The New Jersey prosecutors assigned to the case wanted the court to order the force-feedings. They argued the 69-pound woman was not competent to make such a major life decision because of her chronic depression. The prosecutors maintained anorexia is not a terminal illness and treatment instead of palliative care is a viable choice.
— Peggy wright (@PeggyWrightDR) November 21, 2016
In court proceedings, the anorexic woman was identified only as A.G. She was diagnosed with “terminal anorexia-nervosa,” the Daily Mail reports. The woman is currently being cared for at the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital.
In June, the woman’s weight dropped to just 60 pounds. When the drastic dip in weight occurred, the state deputy attorney general requested the New Jersey Superior Court name a guardian for the patient.
A.G. was ultimately given a pro bono guardian, Susan Joseph. The guardian garnered a court order to have A.G. “artificially fed” at the Morristown Medical Center. While being force-fed, the anorexic woman’s weight increased to 90 pounds.
The feeding tube reportedly had to be removed when the process started to cause damage to her heart. Since the feeding tube was removed, A.G. has reportedly been existing on just occasional bites of food, black coffee, and diet soda.
The attorney for the New Jersey anorexic woman claims her client’s bone density is comparable to that of a 92-year-old person. The lawyer further maintained A.G. would be at risk of injury if she was restrained for the purposes of forced treatment.
The woman has battled anorexia for the majority of her life, according to a Washington Post report. When she was only 13 she began comparing the size of her thighs to that of the other girls in her dance class. Unhappy with the comparison, she began purging.
The anorexic woman’s parents, doctor, psychiatrist, and the Morristown Medical Center bioethics committee all agree transferring A.G. to a palliative care unit would be the best treatment option.
— Weinberg & Cooper (@weinbergcooper) November 22, 2016
Morris County Judge Paul Armstrong appears to have found the patient’s testimony and the wishes of her parents and caregivers credible.
“Her testimony may be fairly summarized as an impassioned, deeply-held rejection of force-feeding,” the judge said. “This decision was made by A.G. with a clear understanding that death was or could be the possible outcome.”
Judge Paul Armstrong’s opinion on the case was delivered orally. It took the judge 140 minutes to detail his decision. The New Jersey judge stated his ruling was shaped at least in part by landmark court decisions on similar “self-determination” cases.
The judge also deemed the testimony given by A.G. as being “forthright, responsive, knowing, intelligent, voluntary, steadfast, and credible.” Ultimately, Armstrong determined the anorexic woman possessed the mental capacity required to make a decision on whether or not to accept nutrition into her own body.
The state could appeal the ruling by the Superior Court judge. It is not yet known if plans to appeal are in the works.
What do you think about the anorexic woman’s right to die case and ruling?
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