Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Nancy Cruzan 1983

The Legacy of Nancy Cruzan ~ According to Marilyn Webb, author of "The Good Death", “Few people are more central to changing the shape of how we die in America than Bill Colby, the attorney [who] brought the case of Nancy Cruzan to national attention.

After a 1983 automobile accident, Nancy Cruzan, age 24, was resuscitated by paramedics into a persistent vegetative state and remained that way for seven years. She could breath on her own and required only a feeding tube. Her parents waged a legal battle to have her feeding tube removed, the case going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled that there was no "clear and convincing evidence" of the patient's wishes to end medical treatment. Trial testimony consisted primarily of Nancy Cruzan's statements made to a roommate about a year before the accident that she would not want to live as a "vegetable".

Following the Supreme Court's decision, some of Nancy's friends came forward and gave additional testimony that she would have refused such treatment. The Missouri Courts ruled that testimony to be of "clear and convincing evidence", and Nancy Cruzan's feeding tube was removed. The Patient Self Determination Act was passed by Congress after the Cruzan decision, to allow patients to make their own decisions about end of life care if they be unable to make decisions for themselves.

See Life Support at Raven.

What happens when you withdraw food and hydration? Ethical Issues in Hydration and Nutrition

The Culture of Life

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