On June 25, 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the case of Nancy Cruzan, the first “right to die” case to come before it. The purpose of this statement is to clarify the meaning of that case in order to prevent misinterpretation that might lead to serious adverse consequences for hopelessly ill patients, their families, and health care professionals. First, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of competent patients to refuse life-sustaining treatment. Second, the Court did not treat the forgoing of artificial nutrition and hydration differently from the forgoing of other forms of medical treatment.
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