|The wife of a Stockton man who
was the focus of a major
right-to-die case has asked the California Supreme Court to
reconsider a ruling making it difficult for families to withdraw
life-sustaining medical treatment for loved ones.
The court held earlier this month that patients who are not
in a coma or suffering from a terminal disease must leave formal
instructions allowing their relatives to withdraw treatment if
they become incompetent.
Rose Wendland wanted to withdraw life-sustaining treatment
for her husband, Robert, who was severely brain-damaged after a
car accident. She and her children waged a six-year legal battle
with Robert's mother, who fought to keep him alive.
Robert Wendland died last month after a bout with pneumonia,
but the court went ahead and decided his case because of the
likelihood that other families will go through the same
The court announced yesterday that Rose Wendland had filed a
petition on Friday asking the justices to reconsider their
decision. She was joined in the request by the attorney who was
appointed to represent Robert Wendland, five medical
organizations, including the California Medical Association, and
40 individual bioethicists.
Wendland said that her husband had told her and his brother
shortly before the 1993 accident that he would not want to be
left in a vegetative state. However, the court said that was not
enough evidence to justify withdrawing his feeding tube.
In the petition, Wendland said the court had set too high a
standard of proof, requiring her to show with "clear and
convincing" evidence that her husband would have wanted to
She urged the court to clarify what evidence is needed when a
patient has left an advance written directive.
E-mail Harriet Chiang at firstname.lastname@example.org.