As advances in medical technology have kept people alive longer, the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment has taken on an even more crucial and urgent significance to dying patients and their families. While modern medicine may have learned to save lives, the lives it has saved are often severely diminished and filled with pain and suffering. Although the right to refuse life saving medical treatment is firmly embedded in our nation's laws, what to do when this right is ignored has not been firmly settled. The Anderson court answered this question by "splitting the difference." It affirmed Winter's right to refuse medical treatment by determining that the medical provider had committed a battery against Winter when he was defibrillated despite a "do not resuscitate" order. However, the court refused to grant any damages because it determined that Winter had not suffered a compensable harm. The court recognized a right, but failed to provide a remedy. Part One of this Article explores the court's legal analysis in Anderson, and whether the court's failure to find a remedy comports with traditional concepts of tort law and more recent and novel causes of action involving "damages for living," including wrongful pregnancy and wrongful life claims. Part Two addresses larger philosophical questions by taking a theological and Halachic (Jewish law) approach.
Daniel Pollack, Chaim Steinmetz, and Vicki Lens,
Anderson v. St. Francis-St. George Hospital: Wrongful Living from an American and Jewish Legal Perspective ,
45 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol45/iss4/8