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July 25, 1986

Withholding or Withdrawing Treatment

Author Affiliations

Society for the Right to Die New York

JAMA. 1986;256(4):470. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380040043013

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To the Editor.—  The opinion of the American Medical Association (AMA) Council of Judicial and Ethical Affairs, "Withholding or Withdrawing Life-Prolonging Medical Treatment," makes clear that artificially supplied nutrition and hydration are medical treatments, to be considered in the same light as other technological procedures that may, in some circumstances, only prolong dying. As with all other treatment, it is primarily the patient's wishes that determine whether tubal sustenance should be administered. The statement also clarifies a point that is frequently obscured: patients' rights are the same whether the patients' deaths are imminent or whether the dying process may be prolonged for months or years.Recently, three courts, in Florida, California, and New Jersey, handed down rulings consistent with the new AMA opinion:In Florida, the husband of 75-year-old Helen Corbett went to court to stop the artificial feeding that was maintaining his wife. The trial court ruled that it