Florida Hospital Can Kill Man Via Euthanasia Over Wife’s Objections

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 26, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Hospital Can Kill Man Via Euthanasia Over Wife’s Objections Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 26, 2004

Orlando, FL (LifeNews.com) — A Florida hospital this week won the right to euthanize a patient despite his wife’s wishes against revoking lifesaving medical treatment. The hospital and wife disputed whether or not 73-year-old terminally ill patient Hanford Pinette had any hope of survival.

Orange Circuit Judge Lawrence Kirkwood ruled that the hospital had the right to follow Pinette’s living will, even though Pinette’s wife also had a durable power of attorney form from her husband.

Written in 1998, the documents authorized his wife, Alice Pinette, to make his medical decisions. However, Hanford Pinette also said he did not want "to prolong artificially the process of dying." It stated that he wanted "to die naturally" and receive treatment only to "alleviate pain."

Kirkwood ruled that Pinette’s "living will must be respected as his last wishes," despite Alice’s contention that her husband was alert, interacting with her, and wanting to go home.

The decision allows doctors at Lucerne Hospital to remove Pinette from machines and medicines that are keeping him alive. Despite the authorization, a hospital attorney said he would talk with his family one more time before making any final decision, according to an Orlando Sentinel report.

The Sentinel reported that Alice pleaded with Judge Kirkwood not to allow the hospital to end her husband’s life.

"Thou shall not kill, and I cannot kill him," Alice Pinette earlier told the judge during testimony. "I cannot do this and live with me [myself]. When someone is talking to you, how can you do that?"

Doctors said Pinette is kept alive by a ventilator, a dialysis machine and medication and that he has no hope of recovery. Hospital officials took the case to court when Alice refused to allow them to kill her husband.

Alice said that if her husband were in a coma and unresponsive, she would carry out the direction in the living will. However, her husband watches football, and told family members who recently shot a deer to "save me a steak."

She said Hanford picks and chooses to whom he will talk and showed pictures at the trial of him seemingly alert.

But Pinette’s pulmonologist Juan Herran told the Orlando newspaper that he has not seen a cognitive response from Hanford in weeks or months. Herran said Hanford would not likely recover from the congestive heart failure that led to the shutdown of other vital organs.