New York court rules hospital may remove respirator from paralyzed patient

[JURIST] The Nassau County Supreme Court [official website] ruled [text, PDF] on Friday that the North Shore Hospital may take paralyzed cancer patient Grace Lee, off life support according to her wishes. The ruling denied a motion filed by her parents seeking to continue the use of breathing tubes. At issue was the determination of whether she is capable of making decisions about her own care. After being paralyzed, Lee is only capable of communicating through blinking or mouthing words. The court's ruling determines that she is mentally capable of making decisions. While the original conflict began when Lee expressed her wish to be taken off life support, Lee recently decided to remain on the respirator [AP report].

The right to die [JURIST news archive] has been a contentious issue around the world. The only European countries that allow euthanasia are Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland. In August, A UK court ruled against a paralyzed man in a right to die case [JURIST report]. In 2011 the Supreme Court of India ruled passive euthanasia was permitted [JURIST report] under certain circumstances, but rejected a petition for a mercy killing. In 2010 a German court ruled that removing a patient from life support is not a criminal offense [JURIST report] if the patient had previously given consent. In 2009 the Italian president refused to sign an Italian government decree [JURIST report] that would stop the euthanasia of comatose women because it would violate the separation of power overturning a previous court ruling.

 

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