Anorexia and Refusal of Life-Saving Treatment: The Moral Place of Competence, Suffering, and the Family

A large part of the debate around the right to refuse life-prolonging treatment of anorexia nervosa sufferers centers on the issue of competence. Whether or not the anorexic should be allowed to refuse life-saving treatment does not depend solely or primarily on competence. It also depends on whether the anorexic’s suffering is bearable or tractable, and on the degree of involvement of the family in the therapeutic process. Anorexics could be competent to refuse lifesaving treatment (Giordano 2008). However, the anorexic’s refusal of life-saving treatment should not be respected purely because it is a competent decision. In fact, anorexia has two characteristics that weaken the strength of the principle ..
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