Woman with eating disorder dies after court grants her that right

Posted at 10:01 PM, Feb 22, 2017

A woman battling a severe eating disorder who won the right to refuse forced feeding has died, according to her attorney.

A.G., as the woman is referred to in court documents, died on Monday, three months after she won the right to refuse a feeding tube in a New Jersey court.

Judge Paul Armstrong granted her the right to “live free from medical intervention” in an opinion delivered in Morris County Superior Court in November. The woman, who has suffered from various eating disorders for most of her life, fought to refuse a feeding tube but remain in palliative care.

“I’m happy my client is finally at peace and it saddens me that modern medicine and a loving, supportive family, despite all the efforts extended, weren’t able to help her overcome her illness,” Edward G. D’Alessandro Jr. said of his court-appointed client.

Her legal battle began when her court-appointed guardian sought an order allowing her to enter palliative care instead of being forced to use a feeding tube. The state opposed the motion, arguing in a legal brief that it would “in essence, [be] permitting A.G. to die.”

The guardian sought the order after the feeding tube caused heart failure over the summer. The woman had ripped out her PICC line, which administered saline nutrition, and had repeatedly refused further treatment, according to court documents.

The woman had anorexic thoughts starting at age 5, according to court documents. Her disorder involved eating restrictions, bingeing and purging. She weighed only 60 pounds when she was admitted to the hospital over the summer at 29 years old. Her attorney testified that she didn’t want the feeding tube because “she didn’t want to get fat,” according to court documents.

According to D’Alessandro, A.G. still was to receive medication, counseling and pastoral support through her palliative care even if she no longer received the feeding tube.

Armstrong also represented the parents of Karen Ann Quinlan in a landmark right to die case in the 1970s. With Armstrong’s legal counsel, according to New Jersey Supreme Court documents, Quinlan’s parents won the right to disconnect their daughter from a respirator after she fell into a coma.