Forcefeeding Anorexics

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 25 2012 @ 3:57pm

A UK court recently ruled that the state has the power to hook up an anorexic women to a feeding tube if she is in danger of starving to death. Charles Foster figures they made the right call:

Autonomy is a victim of anorexia. It is so badly paralysed that it can’t do all the work…. The presumption in favour of the maintenance of life is essential. It’s an appropriate tie-breaker in cases like this. It’s an appropriate way of entrenching intuitions and keeping patients safe.

Jacob Williamson squirms at the logic:

[I]t’s really not clear what it means to say an agent lacks autonomy in such situations. She feels unbearable pain and does not wish to be held down against her will. She has convictions on this question as strong as our own. But someone else decides that they count for nothing, and so she is to be treated like a child. I think force-feeding her is, ultimately, wrong.