Bioethics: When To Declare Someone As Dead

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Bioethics: When to Declare Someone as Dead In many people’s opinion, Nancy Cruzan was dead long before she “died.” Like many medical issues, declaring someone as dead comes with ethical, moral, political, and emotional factors, leading family members to question decisions or argue with themselves or others. One major aspect of this conflict is the fact that the patient is not able to make this decision for themselves at the point when it is necessary. Many people now write living wills expressing their wishes for their treatment in the case that this decision is needed. When a living will is not present, however, families and doctors, and, in the case of Nancy Cruzan, politics, have to decide. In a vegetative state, Nancy Cruzan needed a feeding tube to survive. Her parents knew from previous conversations with Nancy that she would not want to live in this state, and the trail judge authorized the removal of her feeding tube. The situation became more complicated when the…show more content…
Multiple decisions were being questioned during this case, including whether people could deny lifesaving treatments, if the removal of a feeding tube should be viewed differently than other medical treatment, and if the Supreme Court’s decision would be for every state or just Missouri, among other things. Through this trial, the Supreme Court upheld the Missouri Supreme Court decision to keep Nancy on the feeding tube. They also established that removal of a feeding tube would be considered equally as the denial of other medical treatment, that other states did not have to follow the ruling set by this case, that this decision does not change past decisions, and that patients can refuse treatment, even if that refusal will lead to their deaths (Annas). These decisions combined to extend Nancy’s time in a vegetative

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