Recent count indicates that 10,000 Americans now remain, for whatever reason, in an incurable and persistent vegetative condition, trapped in a state of life made possible by aggressive life support systems. A dilemma exists: How do these non-cognitive individuals fit into the legal definitions of life and death? What rights do they, their guardians, or others have in decisions concerning artificial life support, including nutrition and hydration? To resolve the dilemma, a policy based on sound reasoning needs to be established in Ohio to determine if and when the termination of life support, including nutrition and hydration, can occur. Recently, Ohio has had two chances to formulate a policy concerning the withdrawal or refusal of artificial means of administering food and water. To formulate a soundly reasoned policy, Ohio needs to reexamine its own common law, case law from sister states, and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health statute. In order to clarify existing patient and guardian rights, the formulated policy must determine in particular whether or not to consider nutrition and hydration mechanisms in the same light as other life support systems.
Note, Nutrition and Hydration under Ohio's DPAH: Judicial Misconstruction Threatens the Right to Choose Death with Dignity, 38 Clev. St. L. Rev. 279 (1990)