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Bartling v. Superior Johnny Valentine Rasmussen College Author Note This assignment is being submitted on August 19, 2012, for Carol Taylor’s M230 Medical Law and Ethics course. In 1990, Dr. Jack Kevorkian became infamous for assisting individuals who were terminally ill with physician-assisted suicide. Many people frown upon this and even protest saying it’s inhumane. If a family member were on life support and only living because of the tubes connected to their body, what would you do? What if they wanted to die, to be free of pain and agony?

What if the hospital they were in, not only denied them this right to die but kept them alive against their will? This was the situation in the court case of Bartling v. Superior Court. In this case, William Bartling, a mentally competent patient being of sound mind and body was put on artificial life support against his will. Before even coming to the Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Mr. Bartling was suffering from pulmonary emphysema, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, coronary arteriosclerosis, an abdominal aneurysm and lung cancer (“Bartling v.

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Superior Court,” 2012). He had many medical illnesses and refused the ventilator even knowing that doing such a thing would cause him to cease living quicker. Mr. Bartling asked many times for them to remove the ventilator and when they denied him this request, he attempted to take it out himself. He was at that time tied down and secured to prevent him from removing or attempting to remove it (“Bartling v. Superior Court,” 2012). In my opinion, the hospital had no right to force the ventilator on him or deny him his request to take the ventilator out.

This man had zero chance of living regardless and was competent enough to make a rational, sane decision. I think everyone should have a right to decide if they want to end their lives depending upon the situation. If someone wants to end their life and cause more damage than necessary doing so, such as jumping into traffic on a crowded New York City street where the risk of hurting someone else is high, than I don’t think so. If I were Mr. Bartling, I too would never, ever, want to be forced to use a ventilator or be kept alive against my own will on life support through tubes and machines.

Not just me, I couldn’t do that to my family and cause them more pain or suffering than necessary. If I can’t breathe on my own, then it’s not meant for me to live any longer. Not only did Mr. Bartling have a living will signed stating that he understood that having the ventilator removed will very likely cause respiratory failure and ultimately lead to his death, he also had several documents stating very clearly, “that he did not want to continue living an artificial life finding it to be unbearable, degrading and dehumanizing” (“Bartling v.

Superior Court,” 2012). In the end it is your life, no one else’s. I believe what the hospital did was wrong and also a form of battery according to the definition. According to the text, an example of a battery is “performing surgery or a procedure without the conformed consent of the patient” (Fremgen, 2012, p. 37). Those doctors had no permission or right to continue with putting the ventilator in place. Once Mr. Bartling refused and they disregarded and continued anyway, they broke the law. Who are they not to allow someone to end their own life?

A sane, rational decision must be considered and agreed upon. Not just the doctors saying, “no not going to happen,” but also a collective opinion on what would be the best decision for all parties involved. References Fremgen, B. F. (2012). Professional liability and medical malpractice. In Medical law and ethics (4th ed. , pp. 133-157). Upper Saddle River, N. J. : Pearson. Bartling v. Superior Court. (2012). Retrieved from http://law. justia. com/? cases/? california/? calapp3d/? 163/? 186. html


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