Cases such as Fosmire are ethically the most difficult to resolve. The case is brought on behalf of family members, usually minor children, who depend on the patient. If the necessary treatment is forced on the patient, the patient will recover and the issue will be resolved. The appellate judges in Fosmire had the luxury of upholding the patient's autonomy without having blood on their own hands: the trial court's order to give blood had been carried out immediately. The appeal sought only to second-guess its validity.Physicians in a case like Fosmire would properly question whether it would be ethical, although legal, to stand by and not seek a court order to force treatment. Societal interest in the well-being of the dependents would also favor intervention. The trial court's ordering of the treatment might offend some people, but it would not shock the conscience of members of the general public. It is cases such as this that fuel ethical debates, yet these cases have little to do with termination of life-support issues. Termination of life-support cases, in general, do not involve the refusal of curative therapy. If a competent adult refuses curative life support for religious reasons, these cases should be treated separately from the termination of noncurative life support. It is legally permissible to comply with such requests without legal process. It is ethically questionable, however, to accept a refusal of curative therapy without using judicial process at least to verify the sincerity of the request. In extreme situations, the patient's request is tantamount to a request for assistance in committing suicide. Fosmire v. Nicoleau. 551 NE2d 77 (NY 1990). Fosmire v. Nicoleau. 551 NE2d 77 (NY 1990), p. 84. Kane EI: Keeping Elizabeth Bouvia alive for the public good. Hast Cent Rep 1985; 15(6):5.
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