Starvation ‘within patient’s rights’

NZ Herald Mar 25, 2010

Medical ethics experts have stood by a terminally ill patient’s wish to starve herself to death, saying a doctor’s task is to prevent suffering and not death. Margaret Page, 60, who has been living in Wellington’s St John of God care home since 2006, has not eaten for 11 days and has drunk only a small amount of water. She has said she no longer wants to live, and three psychiatric assessments have found her capable of making her own decisions. Despite her separated husband urging staff to force feed her, the facility is respecting her decision as her right.

…Mr Page told Radio New Zealand that his wife was starving herself to death in a “hunger strike” because the facility would not help walk her to the toilet and would not get her a wheelchair with a seat that did not hurt her. She also wanted “technology” in her room to stave off boredom. She was on a waiting list for these things and still several months away from getting them, he said.