State Can Pull Life Support For State Ward, Court Rules
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 27, 2004
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY--The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state can act to remove life support from a person with a mental disability, if that person is "permanently unconscious", with "clear and convincing evidence" that the person will not recover, and it is in the person's "best interest".
In a 5-2 decision, the court added that, when a hospital's ethics committee agrees to terminate life support, and the person does not have a guardian, doctors do not need to seek court approval to do so, nor is it necessary to have a guardian appointed to represent the person.
A dissenting justice called the court's decision "disturbing", adding that the state has a conflict of interest in such a case when it is also responsible for the person's care and treatment.
"It is deeply disappointing that this Court would decide to allow an agency of this State to end the life of a totally innocent ward of that very same State," wrote Justice Donald Wintersheimer. "It is even more shameful to realize that the State would seek to terminate the innocent human life of a person entrusted to its care and protection.
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"State Can Pull Life Support For State Ward, Court Rules"
Woods v. Kentucky (Supreme Court of Kentucky)
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