Arizona Enacts Jesse’s Law, Closes Loophole Causing Euthanasia of Patients

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Arizona Enacts Jesse’s Law, Closes Loophole Causing Euthanasia of Patients

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 26
, 2008

Phoenix, AZ ( — Arizona enacted a new law on Tuesday that closes a loophole that pro-life advocates pointed out would lead to the euthanasia of disabled patients. The new law, inspired by the amazing ordeal of Jesse Ramirez, addresses patients who are physically unable to communicate their wishes regarding medical care.

Ramirez was severely injured in a car crash in a May 2007 automobile accident.

He suffered traumatic brain injury in the accident and had been in a minimally conscious state for just over a week when doctors told his family he may never recover.

A legal battle ensued over the man’s life and his wife made the decision to have his feeding tube removed in the same way Terri Schiavo’s former husband made the decision for her.

Last June, Ramirez woke up from the coma and appeared to be on the road to recovery.

But the battle left unresolved questions about who makes the treatment decisions for patients when they can’t tell doctors what sort of care they want.

The new law establishes a court process to obtain an emergency order to prevent a surrogate decision-maker from withdrawing the administration of food or fluid to an incapacitated patient.

Gary McCaleb, a pro-life attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund law firm that helped Ramirez’s family, appluaded the new law.

“Human life is valuable in its own right, and everyone deserves the chance to recover,” he told “This law ensures that seriously injured patients will not suffer the consequences of a hasty decision that could result in death by starvation or dehydration.”

Ramirez, who was eventually transferred from hospice care to a rehabilitation facility, walked out of the facility in October, 2007, and continues his remarkable recovery at home.

Arizona pro-life groups, including the Center for Arizona Policy promoted the bill, H.B. 2823, to help patients like him.

After the accident, Ramirez’s family filed legal papers asking for his feeding tube to be reconnected with the help of the pro-life law firm.

Maricopa County Superior court Judge Paul Katz ordered that Ramirez be put back on life support and assigned a guardian ad litem as his advocate while the legal arguments were sorted out.

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