Monday, February 3, 2014

BC Court decision in the Bentley "feeding" case (today).

Media Release - February 3, 2014.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is a national non-profit organization that is concerned with protecting people from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

BC court rules fluids and food are basic personal care.

A BC court is releasing (today) its decision in the Bentley case which will determine whether normal feeding (as opposed to tube feeding) is a form of medical treatment that can be withdrawn, causing death by dehydration/starvation.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) intervened in the Bentley case. We argued that normal feeding has always been considered basic care and we proved that normal feeding is defined as basic care and not medical treatment, throughout the world.

Margaret Bentley is living at the Maplewood Care Facility in Abbotsford BC. The Bentley family petitioned the court to define normal feeding as medical treatment in order to stop feeding her. Bentley is living with dementia and her family claims that a statement in her living will indicated that she would want nourishment or liquids withdrawn in this circumstance.

The Bentley case is complicated by the existence of a second "Living Will" document.

The Maplewood Care Facility, Fraser Health and the BC Ministry of Health argued that BC legislation indicates that normal feeding is defined as basic care and not medical treatment and denying her basic care, contravenes Section 215 of the Criminal Code which concerns the Duty of persons to provide the necessaries of life. 

EPC expects that the court will recognize the duty of persons to provide the basic necessaries of life and allow normal feeding to continue.

If the court orders the withdrawal of normal feeding, Bentley would die from dehydration/ starvation and the lives of other people who require assisted feeding would be put at risk.

For more information contact:
Hugh Scher, (Toronto) EPC Legal Counsel: (416) 816-6115 –
Dr Will Johnston, (Vancouver) EPC-BC Chair: (604) 220-2042 –
Alex Schadenberg, (London) EPC Executive Director: (519) 851-1434 –

Link to articles:
Spoon feeding is basic care.
If spoon feeding is no longer a right, I will be afraid for my life.


James Park said...

With careful safeguards, what do we think about ending the feeding of patients with dementia? Might this ever become a choice we would make for ourselves? Here is a chapter that offers 12 safeguards for making wise decisions about patients whose meaningful lives are over:

Alex Schadenberg said...

Dear James:

Your comments are not possible considering that Margaret Bentley is incompetent and the family was asking to withdraw normal feeding (not artificial feeding). Canadian law requires the provision of the Basic Necessaries of Life.

Lynda said...

The distinction between "artificial" feeding and "normal" feeding is rather artificial. If a person is unable to swallow, for instance, he or she ought not to be denied food because the mode of feeding requires more intermediate steps (which are not in themselves immoral) than if he were able to swallow. Feeding a person with certain conditions, or a person who is unconscious necessarily involves different elements in the process but the fundamentals of the action are the same. Unless there is some evil (objective) involved in the mode of feeding, the moral requirement to feed a person, any person, is paramount and cannot be overruled. And a previous instruction by a person not to feed him in a given set of circumstances ought never to be acknowledged or enforced by a man-made law as it is a violation of the Natural Law. There are also several other reasons why such laws ought never be enacted including it being an effective charter for murder.