There are two places in the U.S. where you can be fed against your will: a Catholic hospital and prison.
I have a new article up at Guernica Magazine right now. It examines the case of William Coleman, a prisoner on hunger strike in Connecticut, who continues to be force-fed by the state. But the story is larger than Coleman: our treatment of prisoners reflects a profound series of flaws in the checks and balances we use to guarantee rights to everyone. Too, the issues engaged by the telling of Coleman’s story include Catholic healthcare, end of life jurisprudence, torture, incarceration, and public policing of the boundaries between them. Here’s a brief excerpt:
They came for him on October 23, 2008. Eight medical staff, corrections officers, and guards took William Coleman out of his solitary cell, down a bright hall, and into a medical examination room. The officers stood guard outside while a medical internist told Coleman to get on the vinyl-covered examination table. They were going to feed him. Coleman told them he did not want to be fed. But they weren’t asking for his consent; he had no choice.