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Hastings Cent Rep. 1983 Dec;13(6):19-20.

Nonfeeding: lawful killing in CA, homicide in NJ.



Appellate courts in California and New Jersey have reached conflicting conclusions in the first legal tests of whether artificial feeding is a "medical treatment," and whether it is ever legally permissible to allow a patient to die from dehydration or starvation. In a criminal prosecution of physicians Robert Nejdl and Neil Barber, the California court ruled that there was no significant difference between a respirator and intravenous feeding, and that the two doctors had no legal duty to continue "futile" treatment of their irreversibly comatose patient. The New Jersey court rejected as purposeful killing a request to remove the nasogastric tube from elderly nursing home patient Claire Conroy, who was incompetent but not comatose. Annas considers the issue of pain or suffering to be central to decision making in such cases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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