Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Bentley "spoon feeding" case has been appealed to the BC Court of Appeal.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On February 3, 2014; the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) was elated when Justice Greyall of the BC Supreme Court decided that Normal Feeding is basic personal care and not medical treatment in the Bentley case. 

The Bentley family has appealed the decision to the BC Court of Appeal arguing that Justice Greyall erred in his decision. They are arguing that normal feeding by spoon and cup is a form of medical treatment and Mrs Bentley's is being fed against her prior wishes which they define as "assault and battery."

The Bentley case concerns a woman living at the Maplewood Care Facility in Abbotsford BC. Mrs Bentley is living with dementia. She is being fed normally by spoon and drinks from a cup. Her family claims that she would not have wanted to live this way. The family wants normal feeding to be discontinued and that Mrs Bentley be allowed to die from dehydration.

In August 2013, the family of Mrs Bentley launched a lawsuit against Fraser Health and the BC government ordering that feeding by spoon and cup be discontinued. The Bentley family defined normal feeding as medical treatment. They claimed that feeding was being imposed on Mrs Bentley against her prior wishes and that it constituted a form of "assault and battery."

Mrs Bentley is not being fed by a feeding tube and she is not being forced fed.

It is interesting that, in August 2013, the Bentley family claimed that Mrs Bentley was living with "end stage" dementia and yet in December 2014 she continues to be fed normally.

EPC intervened in the Bentley case. We argued that normal feeding by spoon and cup is not medical treatment but rather constitutes normal care and a basic necessary of life.

The EPC is once again seeking to intervene in the Bentley case. The EPC intervention, among other arguments, will prove that normal feeding is recognized internationally as basic care and not medical treatment.

If normal feeding is redefined as medical treatment, then people with dementia will be at risk of family members deciding to stop feeding or hydrating them, even when they are still eating normally. 
EPC believes that people should have the right to be fed normally. 


Wesley J. Smith said...

Alex: Are they claiming spoon feeding is medical care, or what I think, that an advance directive can cover NON medical support, such as natural eating? Either way, if the family wins, it is an earthquake. I consider this to be the most important litigation in bioethics.

Anonymous said...

This would set a terrible precedent but unfortunately as a nurse with 20 years of experience, primarily in nursing homes, I'm not surprised to hear about a family asking for this. Sheryl Dixon RN CHPN