ABC news is reporting about an elderly, mentally ill patient who is on a hunger strike, psychotically believing he won’t die and it will bring him closer to God. ACT Health, supported by the ACT public advocate which is his leagal guardian, are seeking permission from the supreme court to not force-feed him, and allow him to starve to death.
On the one hand, doctors are there to ‘do no harm’ and force feeding him will harm him and be ‘inhumane’. He has declared his wishes and the doctors want permission to abide by them.
On the other hand, allowing someone to starve to death seems inhumane also. This case has parallels to the recent case of a quadriplegic man in WA beign given court permission to starve to death, except that this man cannot legally give consent. He may have ‘clearly expressed his wishes’, but he is in fact not able to decide for himself.
UPDATED: Chief Justice Terence Higgins has ruled that the hospital must continue to force feed him. In a quote from the paper CT but which I can’t find online, he said the patient must be treated as though he “lacked consciousness or was a helpless infant” due to his inability to give informed consent.