Life Support Removal Denied in Alaska

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An Alaska man's win in a legal battle to keep his wife alive is also considered a Right to Life victory.

Peter Chamberlain had to take legal action with the help of an Alliance Defense Fund affiliated attorney to keep a hospital from pulling the plug on his wife's life support.

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in favor of Chamberlain and his wife Mari stating she should continue receiving medical treatment until her family decides otherwise.

The Chamberlain's appeal to Alaska's highest court argued that their case was important because of its potential to set a lasting precedent for similar suits.

"This is a critically important case, not only in terms of its effect on Mari Chamberlain but also its precedential effect," the appeal read. "Providence Hospital is the largest in the state, and it will follow Judge Morse's lead in other cases, if it is allowed to stand."

Chamberlain and his attorney brought the initial suit on May 16, after doctors told him his wife's treatment was ineffective and that keeping her alive violated their ethical standards.

A lower court judge had ruled against the Chamberlain's and ordered that Mari's life support tubes be removed May 30.

ADF attorneys stepped in to file an appeal on behalf of the Chamberlains, taking their case all the way to the state's highest court.

"No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless," ADF Senior Counsel Joe Infranco said. "A man is caring for the wife he loves; it's not the hospital's job to end her life."

"Having severe medical problems shouldn't be a death sentence," said ADF-allied attorney Kenneth Kirk, who represented Chamberlain. "Judging a patient's worth by subjective 'quality of life' standards is dangerous. The decision on whether to remove life support for this woman rests with her and her husband alone."

Doctors say if Mari's life support is removed, she will likely die in "minutes or days."

Source: Alliance Defense Fund

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