Can I Refuse a Feeding Tube?
You can receive nourishment and hydration through a feeding tube into your stomach or an IV line into your blood. (The stomach feeding tube is generally more effective.) However, if you choose, you can opt not to take in nourishment. Generally, this is a decision to end your life in a matter of days or weeks. You should put this in writing before you are incapable of speaking for yourself as your family might be unwilling to deprive you of food and water.
Contact a lawyer and create a living will that specifically states your current desire not to be given basic sustenance. Even if you are awake, you might lose the ability to speak for yourself if a family member decides to challenge your mental capacity in court.
Refusing a feeding tube can be seen as a drastic move and could mean long conversations with emotional relatives and expensive lawyers. When you consult with your attorney, make sure to include the name of the health care agent (your representative) who you want to speak on your behalf when you become unable to do so. In addition, be sure to inform your agent of these critical decisions before you become sick or incapacitated.
End of life decisions are difficult to face. However, making those choices now, while you are healthy and able, will make the end of your life easier for your friends and family.