Citing the evidence presented before the court, the judge ruled it probable that ST showed a “complete inability to accept the medical reality of her position, or to contemplate the possibility that her doctors may be giving her accurate information,” due to “the result of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, her mind and brain.”
Both ST and her family objected to the ruling and had hoped to appeal it.
There are strict rules against reporting identifiable information about ST, her family, or the hospital involved due to a court-imposed transparency order dating to March. The order came at the request of the unnamed NHS trust, the Christian Legal Centre reported.
ST’s family has said they are legally prevented from public comment and media interviews about her situation. They have not been allowed to ask for prayers or raise money to pursue extraordinary treatment, estimated to cost about $1.9 million.
The family will seek to overturn reporting restrictions so that their daughter can be identified by name in public.
“We are not out for revenge but we want justice for our daughter and for other victims of this cruel system,” the family said. “ST found herself trapped in a medical and legal system governed by a toxic paternalism which condemned her for wanting to live. She was in a race against time to escape ‘the system’ and the certain death it wished to impose on her. The system has now succeeded, but this is not the end.”
“Day after day in the intensive care ward we and ST had to exist and keep going in an environment that had given up on her right and wish to live. Death we were told was the only remedy and the only hope,” the family added. “In such an environment, it meant we were afraid to leave her bedside and were therefore forced to give up our livelihoods to the point we now do not know how we will pay for her funeral.”
The family had no legal aid and was paying its own lawyers until the Christian Legal Centre offered pro bono help. They are still paying legal fees and now must pay off their debts and pay for ST’s funeral, the U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail reported.
Now that the woman has died, her family voiced serious concern about how the medical and legal systems acted.
“Because ST and our family refused to give up hope, doctors said that ST could not possibly have mental capacity to make decisions about her health,” the family statement said. “Despite the fact that two court-appointed expert psychiatrists and the Office of the Public Guardian all agreed that ST did have full mental capacity, the court declared her to have no capacity either to make decisions about her health or even to instruct her own lawyers. From this case we have learned that if you disagree with the NHS, you must for that reason alone be considered delusional. This has been deeply disturbing and traumatic to witness firsthand happening to someone you love.”
The family called for urgent change to the health system. They were joined by Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre.
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“The case of ST is not just about justice for her and her family but ensuring that justice in such cases is done with full transparency and proper scrutiny in this nation,” Williams said in a statement. “ST was truly a courageous and beautiful soul. She died advocating for the preciousness of life and importance of justice.”