The Right to Food and Water

The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network upholds human dignity through service to the medically vulnerable.

We express this mission through public advocacy of essential qualities of human dignity—which include the right to food and water, the presumption of the will to live, due process against denial of care, protection from euthanasia as a form of medicine, and access to rehabilitative care—as well as through 24/7 Crisis Lifeline service to at-risk patients and families.


Why do we advocate the right to food and water?

Every person deserves food and water, regardless of their physical circumstance. We affirm food and water as basic and ordinary care, and reject the dangerous classification of food and water as as extraordinary medical treatment when delivered artificially.

A patient is able to breath and survive on his or her own often still requires food and water delivered by tube due to handicap or other impairment—sometimes lasting a short time, and other times lasting for a long time. No one should ever be starved or dehydrated to the point of death, and in no circumstance should the denial of food and water be treated as a legitimate medical practice.

Access to food and water

Will you be starved and dehydrated to death? Terri Schiavo was deliberately starved and dehydrated to death in a Florida hospice after a protracted court battle was waged to determine her fate.

The assumption is that having an advance directive will assure that a person's wishes will be respected. This is not necessarily so.

According to a 2004 report by The Robert Powell Center For Medical Ethics titled, Will Your Advance Directive Be Followed?, found that, “only twelve states have laws that essentially protect patients’ directives for life-preserving measures.”

And that these 38 states, "may allow doctors and hospitals to disregard advance directives when they call for treatment, food, or fluids." See full report.