PA: Legal Guardians Can’t Pull Plug on Mentally Disabled

In a ruling involving a mentally disabled man whose legal guardians sought the power to end his medical care, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has determined that state law requires life-preserving treatment for people who are not near death and have not refused treatment.

The Alliance Defense Fund and allied attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of 53-year-old David Hockenberry, who has had acute mental disabilities since birth, arguing that his legal guardians should not be allowed to deny him life-preserving treatment while he is not terminal or unconscious. Hockenberry’s guardians unsuccessfully attempted to deny him temporary life-preserving medical treatment for pneumonia.

“Having a disability shouldn’t be a death sentence when treatable medical complications arise,” said Independence Law Center Chief Counsel Randall L. Wenger, one of more than 1,800 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “The court made the right decision to protect Mr. Hockenberry’s right to live. He is not dying or unconscious, and his life isn’t worthless just because he has a disability that may lead others to view his life as less worthy to live.”

“A person’s value isn’t based on his or her physical or mental abilities,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “No one should be allowed to decide that a person’s life is not worth saving just because he or she has a disability or medical condition.”

In December 2007, Hockenberry developed aspiration pneumonia. Hockenberry’s guardians–appointed as his legal guardians in 2002 by a trial court–tried to decline his required ventilator treatment to assist his breathing, but the hospital proceeded despite their objection. After three weeks on the mechanical ventilator, he recovered from pneumonia and no longer required the treatment.

Full Article and Source:
PA Supreme Court: Legal Guardians Can’t Pull Plug on Mentally Disabled

3 Responses to “PA: Legal Guardians Can’t Pull Plug on Mentally Disabled”

  1. Thelma Says:

    >Who made these thieves God?How much money did they earn on the vic before they decided to put him down?

  2. StandUp Says:

    >Good — hopefully other states will now fall in line.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    >Very sad ……… but today I was told by a Senior Citizen the disabled need aides if they go on trips because something might happen but aides are needed for Seniors even if they have walkers because they need independence.

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