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Constitutional Law Keyed to Shanor
Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health
Citation:497 U.S. 261 (1990)
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
In 1983, Nancy Cruzan lost control of her car. The vehicle overturned, and Cruzan was discovered lying face down in a ditch without detectable respiratory or cardiac function. Paramedics were able to restore her breathing and she was transported to a hospital. An attending neurosurgeon diagnosed her as having sustained probable cerebral contusions compounded by lack of oxygen. The Missouri trial court found that permanent brain damage generally results after 6 minutes in an anoxic state; and it was estimated that Cruzan was deprived of oxygen from 12 to 14 minutes. She remained in a coma for approximately three weeks and then progressed to an unconscious state. Subsequent rehabilitative efforts proved unavailing. She now lies in a Missouri state hospital in what is commonly referred to as a persistent vegetative state. Her parents asked hospital employees to terminate the artificial nutrition and hydration procedures. The employees refused to honor the request without court approval.
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