The case of a BC woman with dementia who is being fed normally, to be decided today

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Mrs. Margaret Bentley

Mrs. Margaret Bentley

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) hopes that the British Columbia (BC) Court of Appeal will decide not to hear the case of a BC woman, who is living with dementia and being fed normally. Mrs. Margaret Bentley is not being fed by a feeding tube, she is not force fed and she continues to swallow normally.

In August 2013, Mrs. Bentley’s family launched a lawsuit against Fraser Health and the BC government ordered that feeding by spoon and cup be discontinued. The Bentley family defined normal feeding as medical treatment.

However on February 3, 2014, Justice Greyall of the BC Supreme Court decided that normal feeding is not medical treatment in the Bentley case but personal care under the BC Health Care Consent law. The court recognized that there is an obligation to provide basic personal care, whereas medical treatment is optional.

EPC intervened in this case because we agree that normal feeding by spoon and cup to be basic normal care. Mrs. Bentley willing eats and swallows normally and the decision by Justice Greyall is correct.

EPC also recognizes that people who require assisted feeding will be negatively affected if Greyall’s decision is overturned.

The Bentley family argued that Justice Greyall erred in his decision. They argue 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 family wants normal feeding to be discontinued. Mrs. Bentley would die from dehydration.

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.

Editor’s note. This appeared at alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca.