Intended for healthcare professionals


Debate about medical treatment of life prisoners

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 19 August 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:510
  1. J Ellis Cameron-Perry, lecturer in philosophy and law (
  1. 5 Laird's Inn Court, Dunkeld, Perthshire PH8 0AR

    EDITOR—Dyer has written of Mr Justice Kay's decision that Ian Brady—the murderer who has been in prison for over 30 years and has been on hunger strike since last October—should not be allowed to stop doctors force feeding him.1

    In a series of cases concerning the right to give food and hydration to non-consenting patients with anorexia nervosa the courts have reasoned as follows. An acute diminution of autonomy is characteristic of (indeed, a symptom of) anorexia nervosa; …

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