Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Widow tries again on the right to die

State high court asked to reconsider its ruling

Harriet Chiang, Chronicle Legal Affairs Writer

Wednesday, August 29, 2001 

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 wrenching situation.

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 die.

She urged the court to clarify what evidence is needed when a patient has left an advance written directive.

E-mail Harriet Chiang at