MORRISTOWN, N.J – A New Jersey judge cleared the way for parents to force-feed their 20-year-old anorexic daughter.
The judge on Tuesday ruled the woman, known as S.A., was incapable of making her own decisions and gave her parents the power to make medical decisions on her behalf. Her lawyer had argued that she wanted to make her own decisions and that she can manage her eating disorder on her own.
Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong found that her physicians have determined she does not understand the risks to her life by not eating and she has a chance of recovery through her parents’ guardianship.
The Parsippany resident weighed 60 pounds in June when she was taken to a clinic in Princeton and has since gained 15 pounds.
Her mother told the Daily Record of Parsippany the case makes other parents hopeful.
The ruling follows the February death of a 30-year-old Morris County woman who successfully fought force-feeding. Her parents and doctors supported a ruling, also handed down by Armstrong, that allowed her to refuse a feeding tube. Court documents indicate that she had undergone a decade of unsuccessful treatment and had suffered organ damage. Her parents wanted her to continue treatment but also wanted to respect her wishes.
In S.A.’s case, Armstrong cited the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, which argues that compulsory feeding can be effective in the early stages of anorexia, before organ failure.
S.A.’s mother called court-ordered guardianship a tool “to keep our kids alive.”