According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, at least 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of all mental illnesses — in fact, one person dies from an eating disorder every 62 minutes. Those who are affected often become completely obsessed with their weight and refuse to eat, which can interfere with their ability to think rationally.
That being said, one New Jersey woman with anorexia nervosa was recently granted the right to “live free from medical intervention” by the Morris County Superior Court. In other words, nobody can force her to eat if she doesn’t want to.
The 29-year-old woman, only identified as A.G., has been restricting her eating as well as binging and purging since she was in high school.
She’s been in and out of the hospital multiple times, and weighed just 60 pounds last summer. She even suffered heart failure, but she has reportedly recovered.
After ripping out an IV tube meant to administer nutrition on one occasion, her court-appointed guardian asked that she be allowed to go into palliative care, which would provide medical treatment for her symptoms without addressing the underlying cause of her disorder.
New Jersey’s Department of Human Services and Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services fought against the request, stating that this would lead to her death and that she needs to have a feeding tube inserted through her nose.
The state argued that she “suffers from a mental disorder that, among other things, includes a distorted view of reality, and a false view of her own weight and prognosis.”
A.G.’s guardian also admitted that A.G. was afraid that a feeding tube would make her “get fat.” However, Judge Paul Armstrong ultimately ruled that she has the right to refuse force-feeding.
While everyone deserves the freedom to make their own choices, it’s concerning to think about what might happen if she continues to not eat.
We can only hope that she eventually chooses to get full treatment for her anorexia so that she can live a long, happy life. If you or somebody you know has an eating disorder, you can call 1-800-931-2237 or click here for help.