Andrea Clark, Woman at Center of Texas "Futile Care" Euthanasia Case, Dies

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 8, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Andrea Clark, Woman at Center of Texas "Futile Care" Euthanasia Case, Dies Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 8, 2006

Houston, TX ( — Andrea, Clark, the disabled woman at the center of a national controversy over a Texas "futile care" law, has passed away. The law has become a focal point for both disabled activists and pro-life advocates who say it encourages doctors and medical facilities to deny lifesaving treatment to patients and leaves families with few options to help.

Clark, 54, suffered complications following open heart surgery and required a ventilator and dialysis to survive. Her motor control faculties were damaged but, her family says her cognitive abilities were unaffected.

Clark’s family announced that she passed away Sunday afternoon at St. Luke’s Hospital and her two sisters, her brother, and her son when she died.

Her family said she was not in pain but had developed a severe infection her body was unable to continue fighting.

"We hope that the battle that we fought for our sister will bring to light and bear witness to the horrible acts committed in the name of ethics in hospitals across the state of Texas," the Clark family said in a statement provided to

"The battle for life is a difficult one, in the best of situations, but when a family is put through what we had to go through at such a time, it is especially agonizing," they said.

They’re referring to an April 19 decision by St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston, where Clark was a patient. The hospital informed her family that her medical care would be discontinued in 10 days — following a Texas law that provides medical facilities the right to give a family 10 days notice that treatment will be withdrawn.

In what pro-life advocates say is a direct act of passive euthanasia, a hospital committee decided Clark’s condition was beyond hope and refused further medical treatment.

Clark’s family, working with the hospital, found a hospice in Chicago that would take her, but the arrangement fell through.

As a result, St. Luke’s planned to move forward on its threat to withhold treatment, but Andrea’s attorney, Jerri Lynn Ward, served St. Luke’s with a cease and desist order.

Fortunately for Clark, last week the hospital announced that a new doctor would take over her car — one who would not give up on her treatment.

Jerri Ward, the attorney for Clark’s family, told at the time that "St. Luke’s is doing the right thing in this case now. The physician team met with the new attending and it went well."

Clark’s family lamented the amount of time they had to spend fighting the hospital to provide her appropriate medical care.

"We wish so much that we could have spent more time at our sister’s side, when she was living and fighting for her life, rather than having to visit our attorney’s office," they said.

Burke Balch, J.D., director of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics at the National Right to Life Committee, told that Clark was never "brain dead" and that she was simply a "sick patient with a family desperate to ensure that she continues to receive medical treatment."

Ward is helping the family of a Vietnamese woman in Austin who has encountered a similar situation at a hospital there.