Woman who wants to die will accept food

A woman who was sexually abused as a child and wants to die has agreed to take nourishment and fluids for the next two weeks.

The HSE last week initiated proceedings seeking orders allowing it to force-feed and administer liquids to the woman, who is being treated at a psychiatric facility. She was admitted to the facility after incidents of self-harm.

The woman has barely eaten or taken fluids for the past two weeks and was fed via naso-gastric tube for some time. She opposed the HSE’s application but her husband supports it. Last Friday, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns granted a temporary order allowing the HSE to administer fluids only. When the matter returned to court yesterday, Mr Justice Kearns was ultimately told the woman would agree to be provided with nourishment for two weeks. During that time, a report would be made by an independent psychiatrist. The central issue in the case, which raises legal issues not previously dealt with by the Irish courts, is whether the woman has the necessary mental capacity to take the decision.

Feichin McDonagh, counsel for the woman said his client would not consent to force-feeding orders and argued the law did not allow that in this case and the issue of her capacity must be decided first. Given the woman’s acquiescence to accept nourishment for two weeks, the judge refused to grant the HSE an order allowing it restrain her if she tries to stop doctors feeding her.

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