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Cruzan reconsidered.

The case of Nancy Cruzan is back in the court where it began. Appearing before the same judge and in the same third-floor courtroom, the family's lawyer, William Colby, offered testimony on 2 November from her physician and three more friends of Ms. Cruzan's, contending that here was "clear and convincing evidence" that she would not have wished to continue existing in a persistent vegetative state.

When in March 1988 Judge Charles E. Teel of the Jasper County Probate Court granted the Cruzans' petition to remove the feeding tube that had kept their daughter alive since 1983, Missouri's attorney general, William L. Webster, appealed the decision, saying he wanted a clear precedent from a higher court. He got it

By September 1990, however, Mr. Webster was no longer interested. He responded to the Cruzans' latest petition by asking that the state of Missouri be dismissed as a party to the action, arguing that as the legal standard has now been established, the state has no further need to pursue the case. The attorney general plans to run for governor and it is speculated that he does not wish to appear indifferent to the Cruzans' plight when there is so much public sympathy for them ("Missouri Reverses Position ...... American Medical News, 28 Sept. 1990).

With the removal of the state, the only potential legal opponent is Ms. Cruzan's court-appointed guardian, Thad McCanse. In 1988 Mr. McCanse sided with the Cruzans, yet his legal role requires him to set aside his personal opinion and force the family's lawyer to meet the "clear and convincing" standard.

As Mr. McCanse questioned Ms. Cruzan's physician, taking him through page after page of medical records reporting her incontinence, ailments of the stomach, eyes, and gums, her alternating diarrhea and constipation, her rashes and obesity, her vomiting, seizures, and contorted limbs, he paused. "Is it in her best interests to continue this existence?"

Dr. Davis thought a moment and replied, "No, sir. I think it would be personally a living hell."

Nancy Cruzan died on 26 December 1990.
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Title Annotation:Nancy Cruzan
Author:Nelson, Hilde L.
Publication:The Hastings Center Report
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Words:341
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