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On December 26, 1990, Nancy Cruzan died, 12 days after her feeding tube was removed. She had been in an irreversible coma for seven years and her parents had sued for the right to remove the feeding tube that was keeping her alive. The pain and suffering of her family in coming to this decision was certainly compounded by those who disagreed with them and tried to prevent the extubation. Whether one agrees with this particular decision or not, most of us will not be faced with such clear alternatives, ie, leave the tube in or take it out in someone in an irreversible coma. A much more common scenario is having an elderly loved one who is not in a coma, but in a mental state that puts him or her out of touch with reality. What to do for them in terms of keeping them alive is not at all black and white.


Assisted suicide; Right to die


Family, Life Course, and Society | Medicine and Health | Women's Health


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Copyright American Medical Women’s Association used with permission

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