Wisconsin Attorneys Quit Bid to Subject Disabled Patient to Euthanasia

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 20, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Wisconsin Attorneys Quit Bid to Subject Disabled Patient to Euthanasia Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 20,

LaCrosse, WI (LifeNews.com) — In a surprise move, attorneys representing a La Crosse family asked a judge for a dismissal of their motion to remove a feeding tube from a woman who is not terminally ill and not dying. Their original request invited legal action from pro-life groups interest in helping the woman not be subject to euthanasia.

The attorneys for the woman, named Marilyn, filed their new request in a La Crosse circuit court late Friday afternoon.

The lawyers admitted they would not likely win their case, but they reserved the ability to file the motion again at a later date.

Barbara Lyons, the director of Wisconsin Right to Life, told LifeNews.com the unexpected withdrawal of the motion "is excellent news for patients all over the state who are in similar situations."

Lyons’ group filed a legal motion last week to attempt to intervene on the behalf of the disabled woman.

"The La Crosse case was being set up as a test case to change state law via the courts to allow the removal of food and water from many vulnerable patients," Lyons explained. "We empathize with the family of the woman in question as they struggle through this difficult time. Our prayers are with them."

Had the attorneys for the guardian prevailed in the case, Marilyn could have been subjected to the same painful starvation and dehydration death that took Terri Schiavo’s life in March 2005.

Marilyn, who is in her 50s, has had several strokes and has dementia. However, she is believed not to be terminally ill and is not dying, the pro-life group told LifeNews.com.

She is currently a patient at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center where she is being kept under sedation and is fed through the use of a feeding tube.

Marilyn has left no advance directive or instructions or otherwise indicated her wishes with respect to the withdrawal of life-preserving nutrition and hydration. That’s what led to the legal dispute between Terri’s family and her formal husband, who eventually won the right to have her killed.

Wisconsin Right to Life attorneys Rick Esenberg and Terry Allen Davis submitted the motion to intervene in the case for the organization.

"This should be the end of the matter," they told the court. "Under controlling law, it is not possible for Marilyn’s guardian or this court to order the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration."

The attorneys cited the 1997 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in the case of Guardianship of Edna M.F.

In the case, the state’s high court unanimously held that "a guardian may only direct the withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment, including nutrition and hydration, if the incompetent ward is in a PVS and the decision to withdraw is in the best interest of the ward."

Robyn Shapiro, an attorney for Marilyn’s guardian, told the LaCrosse Tribune newspaper during a Tuesday court hearing that she is “functionally equivalent” to a persistent vegetative state and her medical history supports the position.

A hearing in the case had been planned for August 22 before the guardian’s attorneys withdrew the motion.

Related web sites:
Wisconsin Right to Life – https://www.wrtl.org