Parents sue to keep daughter on life support (NY)

Here’s a case of an adult who is hooked up to life support but still cognizant enough to ask for it to be disconnected… but she has her religious parents telling her she’ll go to hell because if she sets the date and time of her death it’s suicide.

It’s hard to deal with that belief system but it looks to me like this woman is in hell now.

28-year-old Grace Sung Eun Lee has a brain stem tumor then suffered a stroke leaving her paralyzed from the neck down, dependent on a feeding tube and ventilator to breathe.

Her father, a minister, and his wife have claimed their “always-obedient daughter” would never willingly end her God-given life and that she had been unduly influenced by doctors.

The doctors at Long Island’s North Shore University Hospital said they would like to respect Lee’s wishes and remove her feeding and breathing tubes. But Lee’s devout parents argued that would qualify as suicide and would keep her from going to heaven.  They filed legal motions to stop the hospital from removing the tube. Ms. Lee has an attorney as well.
Now New York’s highest court has sided with Grace Lee in this legal battle with her parents over her decision to be taken off life support.
The court’s decision Friday clears the way for Lee to choose to end her life, though no changes will be made in her treatment plan until a guardianship hearing next week. Her father has applied for guardianship giving him the right to make decisions for her. If she comprehends her situation and makes her wishes known, I don’t think guardianship can be shifted to another person. She may be their obedient daughter, but she is an adult.


Her cousin is working out a communication system with Ms. Lee who can only mouth words and shake her head yes or no, and now claims she doesn’t want to die. She does appear cognizant enough in the video to be able to understand and make her own decisions, but are the right questions being asked of her? Of course she would like to be able to eat and breath on her own and go out into the sunshine but doctors at this point don’t see that as a possibility.

This is why we need comprehensive laws about assisted suicide and euthanasia that protect people from others who think they know best. One one hand terminally ill people have to be protected from those who want to speed them along; on the other, when someone is ready to go, they should have the right to say when and have their wishes respected. Now New York needs to have this conversation.

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