Unf-ingbelievable. It's not that I'm necessarily opposed to not letting convicts kill themselves, but in the cases of Terry Schiavo and Marjorie Nighbert we killed them, but here "sanctity of life" keeps convicts alive? Perhaps if they said we think it's more torturous feeding convicts and forcing continued life than letting them die...hat tip Dr Nancy G
Court OKs forced feeding of
While reports mount of elderly and disabled Americans being starved and dehydrated to death by denial of a feeding tube – sometimes by court order – a state court has approved the force-feeding of a convicted arsonist who was trying to starve himself to death.
In a decision Thursday, Washington's Court of Appeals ruled that the state's Department of Corrections was within its rights when it forced a feeding tube on Charles R. McNabb to end his five-month hunger strike.
According to a report in the Seattle Times, McNabb, 51, had been convicted of arson and assault for burning his estranged wife's Spokane home, during which his 16-year-old stepdaughter was seriously burned. He wanted to starve himself out of remorse over his stepdaughter's trauma. McNabb refused to eat while housed in the county jail while awaiting his trial last summer, losing close to 100 pounds.
Although McNabb had argued that the feeding tube violated his right to decline medical treatment, the three-judge panel unanimously ruled: "The right to decline force-feeding is not absolute because the state has an interest in protecting the sanctity of the lives of its citizens."
The case is an ironic contrast to the increasing number of cases where courts order the removal of feeding tubes from patients fighting for life. As the current edition of Whistleblower magazine reports, the Terri Schiavo case was just the most high-profile such instance.
For instance, Whistleblower tells the story of Marjorie Nighbert, an 83-year-old Florida stroke victim who had actually asked her nursing home care-givers for a "little something to eat" and a drink of water. Yet a Florida judge ruled she was not "competent" to make such a request for food, and was starved and dehydrated to death with the full agreement of her family.
Moreover, for every high-profile case involving the courts, many other elderly and disabled Americans are being quietly "helped along" toward death before their time, behind closed doors, without public knowledge, Whistleblower reports.
For the 5-foot-9 McNabb, sentenced to 14 years, the feeding tube was a violation of his rights.
"I am declining to eat for personal reasons," he wrote in a sworn declaration in August 2004, as he filed a lawsuit, according to the Seattle Times account. "I am competent to make this choice. ... I am deeply committed to that decision and for that reason I have consistently declined to eat, except under threat of force-feeding, for almost six months."
Finally, to avoid being force-fed, soon after the feeding tube was inserted, McNabb began to eat on his own.
As the prison system's chief physician, Dr. Marc Stern, told the Times:
"One of the things we struggle with is: Where does the patient autonomy end and where does the state autonomy begin? We do have cancer patients who can't eat and choose to not eat. In that case, the patient has autonomy. You have the right to die in a dignified way. But being perfectly healthy and saying, 'I'm not going eat,' that's where your autonomy ends and our autonomy begins."