Thursday, August 16, 2007

Big 'right to die' case brewing in La Crosse

This story could be as big as Terry Shiavo, and it's right here in La Crosse:

Here's Wisconsin Right to Life's press release in full:

For immmediate release: Wednesday, August 15

Today, Wisconsin Right to Life and Joleen Stratman, the LaCrosse County Chairperson of Wisconsin Right to Life filed a motion in the Circuit Court of LaCrosse County to intervene on behalf of an incapacitated LaCrosse woman whose guardian has requested the withdrawl of nutrition and hydration.

The woman, named Marilyn, is believed not to be terminally ill and is not dying. Newspaper stories report she has had several strokes and has dementia. Marilyn is currently a patient at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center where she is being kept under sedation and is fed through the use of a feeding tube. Marilyn has left no advance directive or instructions or otherwise indicated her wishes with respect to the withdrawal of life-preserving nutrition and hydration.

In the motion filed today, Wisconsin Right to Life Attorneys Rick Esenberg and Terry Allen Davis told the court, "This should be the end of the matter. Under controlling law, it is not possible for Marilyn's guardian or this court to order the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration."
The attorneys cited the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in Guardianship of Edna M.F., 210 Wis.2d 557, 563 N.W.2d 485 (1997), where the Court unanimously held that "a guardian may only direct the withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment, including nutrition and hydration, if the incompetent ward is in a PVS and the decision to withdraw is in the best interest of the ward." 210 Wis.2d at 560.
(PVS stands for persistent vegetative state)

An August 22 hearing in the case will be held in the LaCrosse County Circuit Court before Judge Scott Horne.

The La Crosse Tribune has already written extensively:
To read Hearing set in right-to-die case (07/25/07), click here
To read Family asks court for right to die: Relatives, hospital want to end La Crosse woman’s suffering (07/15/07), click here.
To read past Advocates say state law too restrictive on families (07/15/07), click here.
And today's story: Woman's case draws Right to Life action

Lastly, the AP wire story: Wis. Right to Life seeks to intervene in case of sedated patient

You'll be hearing more from me as this develops, as I will almost certainly be assigned to cover it for the Catholic Times.

1 comment:

Steve said...

This issue is one that can be very tricky on both of its sides, setting aside for a moment what the Church teaches about the sanctity and dignity of all life.

What this "guardian" (and I use the term rather loosely here, has proposed could very well be seen both legally and morally as premediated murder of the stroke patient.

Whatever the decision of the Court will be, this story highlights once again two salient points:

1. The Church's teaching on the Sanctity of Life in all forms and stages; and

2. Everyone should take steps to protect themselves while they are healthy so that when/if te time comes for family members need to make heathcare decisions for their loved one, they would have the necessary legal guidance (DNRs, Power of Attorney for Healthcare, etc) so that it would not be as stressful a situation as it would be if they were suddenly thrust into this.