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Elizabeth Bouvia Makes Videotape Appeal to End Forcefeeding

February 13, 1986

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A judge says he’ll rule next week on a request by paraplegic Elizabeth Bouvia that she be removed from a nasal tube, which she says painfully forcefeeds her against her will.

Ms. Bouvia, 28, who received national attention 2 1/2 years ago when she waged an unsuccessful attempt to starve herself, filed a $10 million lawsuit last month to have the feeding tube removed.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the 74-pound cerebral palsy victim, argues she has a right to choose her treatment. But attorneys for Los Angeles County, which operates the High Desert Hospital in Lancaster where she is being treated, contend Ms. Bouvia is merely trying to starve herself.

Superior Court Judge Warren Deering heard arguments on the issue Wednesday and said he would issue a ruling next week.

In broken sentences slurred by her medical condition, Ms. Bouvia said in a videotape played Wednesday that she has tried to take tea, juice and other liquid nutrition but it usually made her vomit.

Ms. Bouvia was filmed in her hospital bed and talked with a plastic tube in place that has force-fed her up to 2,000 calories daily since Jan 16.

″A patient has a right to exercise her refusal to take medication,″ said Jackie Scheck of the ACLU, after the videotape was played.

But county attorney Steven Carnevale said, ″She is engaging in a course of conduct designed to end her life. ...

″She’s not obviously going to say she is, because last time the courts ruled against her.″

Ms. Bouvia said she still wants to die but is not killing herself. Although the tube-feeding makes her nauseous, she said she is willing to consume enough liquids to sustain herself.

Ms. Bouvia also wants to be informed of any new medication she would be given before hospital officials administer it, and wants to be removed from a special bed designed to relieve bedsores because it is painful.

Deering issued a temporary restraining order on Jan. 28, granting both requests.

The suit also seeks damages of $10,000 a day for every day the tube stays in place.

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