Leslie Burke Loses ‘Right to Food’ Case (2006)

Terminally-ill patient Leslie Burke, 46, has lost the last stage of a legal challenge for the right to receive nutrition and drink when he is close to death, his lawyers said. Burke, who has a degenerative brain condition, fears artificial nutrition could be stopped against his wishes when he cannot talk anymore. Burke was seeking to overturn a ruling made by the Court of Appeal in London last year, which said it would be lawful for doctors to refuse him artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH). The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg said in a written judgement released to Burke and the government last week that it had declined his appeal. Burke learned of the court’s decision while attending the funeral of his brother in Ireland who died after suffering from the same genetic condition, Friedreich’s ataxia. The condition causes lack of coordination, but does not affect mental faculties. Burke said he was “extremely disappointed” with the ruling. “I only hope that if I am lucky enough to be in hospital, that the doctors treating me will not believe at some stage that it will be in my best interests for ANH to be withdrawn even when death is imminent, effectively letting me die of starvation and thirst when I am no longer able to communicate my wishes. I will be making a living will, even though it will give me no comfort, for as it stands living wills are not legally binding and can be disregarded if the wishes contained in it conflict with the doctor’s view.” The Strasbourg court said that it was satisfied that the...

How to Obtain an Advance Medical Directive

There are 3 different pro-life advance directives available. In contrast to most “Living Wills”, all 3 pro-life alternatives state that food and water are to be provided (by feeding tube if necessary) unless death is imminent and the person’s body is unable to assimilate nourishment at that point. (There is nothing to fear about a feeding tube; it is a simple device that has been in use for more than 100 years. The liquid food, such as Ensure, is common and inexpensive… No one wants a feeding tube, just as no one wants dentures, but if you are hungry, you would probably gratefully accept aid in receiving food. Sometimes a feeding tube is inserted, not because the patient can’t swallow, but because it is more convenient for the caregivers than feeding by mouth.) Here are the pro-life advance directives: The Will to LiveNational Right to Life Committee512 10th St NWWashington, D.C. 20004202.626.8800http://www.nrlc.org/euthanasia/willtolive/index.html Protective Medical Decisions Document (PMDD)International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted SuicideP.O. Box 760Steubenville OH 43952800.958.5678http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/adneeds.htm The Loving WillAmerican Life League, Inc.P.O. Box 1350Stafford VA 22555540.659.4171http://www.all.org/issues/index.htm (click “End of Life Care”) Unfortunately, the laws of all but 10 states may allow doctors and hospitals to disregard advance directives when they call for treatment, food, or fluids, according to a report issued by the National Right to Life Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics, on 15 April 2005. Dorothy Timbs, J.D., Legislative Counsel for the Powell Center said, “It is important to fill out an advance directive like the Will to Live available on our website, to make you wish not to be denied food or treatment clear. However, it...