Sunday, October 7, 2012

Grace SungEun Lee decides not to withdraw ventilator

An article in the New York Daily News, in an article entitled: Grace Sung Eun Lee says she wants to remain on ventilator, explains that Grace SungEun Lee (28), who has a brain tumour and had stated that she wanted to have her ventilator withdrawn, has now changed her mind, even though the court had agreed that she could withdraw the ventilator at the time of her choosing.

Lee's parents did not want Lee to have her ventilator withdrawn and brought the case to court to attempt to stop her from withdrawing the ventilator.

After hearing the decision of the court, Lee told her court appointed lawyer, David Smith, that she needed time.

Yesterday she told Smith that she wanted to remain on the ventilator. When Smith asked her if she wanted to remain on the ventilator until she died, Lee said Yes.

This case has several issues that need further explanation.

First, a person has the right to withdraw life-sustaining treatment, and the New York court simply upheld that right. Inspite of what the media reported, this decision did not constitute a "right to die" but rather this decision maintained that competent people have the right to refuse medical treatment.

The fact that Lee's parents challenged her decision, could only be based on a belief that the decision was not in her best interest. The court recognized that she was competent and therefore upheld her right to withdraw medical treatment.

Second: Withdrawing medical treatment is not the same as euthanasia or assisted suicide.

If the ventilator had been withdrawn from Lee, Lee may have died, but she may have continued to breath. If she had died, it would have been a natural death.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are intentional deaths that are caused by lethal doses. These are very different circumstances.

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