Sisters lose fight to feed dying mother

Bishop Gregory O

Two South Australian sisters have been denied their plea to feed their dying mother, with a public guardian refusing to reinstate the woman's feeding tube despite the intervention of the Catholic Church. Source: ABC News.

By Sowaibah Hanifie, ABC News.

The Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) has been making decisions on behalf of the mother, after her daughters were stripped of her guardianship amid a dispute with her aged care provider.

The mother, who had end-stage dementia and breast cancer, died this week, more than a month after the nasogastric tube, which had been providing her nutrition, fell out.

Before her death, the sisters urged the public advocate to reinstate their mother's tube, arguing it would be in keeping with her Catholic faith.

But in a decision upheld by the state's Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the OPA declined.

Instead she was given saline through a drip.

"It's mum's religious belief and wishes, she always said, 'Where there's life there's hope' and she wanted to be fed and watered right until the end," the elder daughter said.

In a letter to the family, the OPA said the tube would not be reinstated because the patient was in a "pre-terminal phase".

Before the woman's death, the Bishop of the Diocese of Port Pirie, and Apostolic Administrator of the Adelaide Archdiocese, Gregory O'Kelly SJ, wrote to the OPA, throwing his support behind the daughters' fight.

In the letter, he said: "To deny food or drink, no matter how it is delivered, to such a person is to deny them ordinary means for sustaining life."

"There is a difference between sustaining the dying state and undertaking a deliberate withdrawal of treatment in order to bring about death."

The ABC has spoken to four of the woman's five children. Three of them supported the nasogastric tube being inserted and agreed on their mother's view to prolonging life.

The OPA said it couldn't comment on the case for privacy reasons, but said it must consider, based on evidence, what the wishes of the person incapacitated would be.


Sisters lose fight to feed dying elderly mother despite intervention of the Catholic Church (ABC News)

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