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Posted on March 31, 2016 at 4:30 AM

Forty years ago, today, on March 31, 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its decision in In re Quinlan.  


The court held that Quinlan’s interest in having her life-support disconnected exceeded the state’s interest in preserving life, so long as clinicians saw ”no reasonable possibility” that she would recover.  Because she was in a coma, the court ruled that her father – and not her doctors or a court – was the authority for deciding on her behalf. 

The court also ruled that no one could be held criminally liable for removing life-support, because the Quinlan’s death ”would not be homicide, but rather expiration from existing natural causes.”

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