Saturday, August 18, 2007

A life saved

Congratulations to Attorney Rick Esenberg and Wisconsin Right to Life. They intervened in a case of a La Crosse woman whose court-appointed guardian was trying to end her life-saving care.

The court case involving a guardian seeking to withdraw life-sustaining treatment for a La Crosse woman is over for now.

In a surprise move Friday in La Crosse County Circuit Court, attorneys for the guardian withdrew a request to stop life-sustaining treatment. They asked La Crosse County Circuit Judge Scott Horne to dismiss the case without prejudice, leaving the door open to refile the case at a future date.

Charles Barr, a Milwaukee attorney for the guardian, told the judge he had received a medical opinion about the woman recently “that convinced us not to proceed at this time.”
Had Wisconsin Right to Life and Rick Esenberg not intervened, would Barr and the guardian have received the medical opinion in time to save her life?
In Wisconsin, a guardian has no authority to withdraw life-sustaining treatment unless the patient is in a persistent vegetative state or has expressed wishes through a conversation or advance directive. Attorneys for the woman said she is not in a persistent vegetative state and doesn’t have an advance directive.
Making decisions at the end of someone's life can be extremely difficult, but the error should be on the side of life.

However in this case, "Marilyn" was not terminally ill and is not in a persistent vegetative state. She is suffering from dementia after several strokes, a dementia that causes her to tear out her feeding tubes. The Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center keeps her sedated to prevent her from doing that. It is the life-saving choice, and one preferable to euthanasia by starving a woman to death.