Alaska Woman Won’t be Starved to Death Thanks to Pro-Life Law Firm’s Help

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 10, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Alaska Woman Won’t be Starved to Death Thanks to Pro-Life Law Firm’s Help

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 10
, 2008

Anchorage, AK ( — A leading pro-life law firm has stepped in and helped save the life of an Alaska woman who was in danger of becoming a euthanasia victim. The case involved what is becoming a growing and disturbing trend — with doctors and hospital staff deciding a patient is too far gone and removing a patient’s life support.

The unnamed patient’s husband filed a lawsuit against the hospital and a doctor in May to keep the medical staff from removing his wife’s life support, which would have terminated her life.

Kenneth Kirk, an attorney working with the Alliance Defense Fund, subsequently filed a motion for stay on the husband’s behalf to keep the hospital from taking the patient’s life.

The motion was granted, and the Alaska Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on May 30 prohibiting the hospital from discontinuing life support pending appeal and further order of the court.

The hospital then determined that it would remove her feeding tube instead, which would have caused the woman to starve to death.

Following additional proceedings and efforts by Kirk, the hospital changed positions and will now allow continuation of the patient’s nutrition, hydration, and pain treatment.

“No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless," Kirk told

“We regret the tragic events that have befallen this woman and are pleased to have been able to help her husband protect her life. He should have been able to see that his wife was cared for without having to fight hospital staff who wanted to starve her to death," Kirk continued.

ADF Senior Counsel Joe Infranco also commented on the case.

“Hospitals should be in the business of preserving life rather than willfully destroying it,” he said. “A man is caring for the wife he loves. A hospital should be working with him, not against him–giving every benefit of the doubt regarding life.”

The patient is now receiving care in an Anchorage nursing home.

The victory in the case comes on the heels of the brother of a California woman, Janet Rivera, who was starved for 11 days in the same manner as Terri Schiavo, winning the ability to make her medical decisions and stop officials from taking her life.


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