High Court Refuses to Stop Kin From Ending Life-Support Care

United Press International

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Thursday to stop relatives from removing an artificial life-support system from a woman who has lingered in a coma since suffering irreversible brain damage seven years ago.

The high court unanimously denied a nursing home’s request for an emergency stay of a New Jersey Supreme Court order allowing the family of Nancy Ellen Jobes, 32, to disconnect her feeding tubes.

The vote to deny the stay was 7 to 0, a court spokesman said. Justice William J. Brennan Jr. did not take part in the decision.


The Supreme Court has never ruled on whether a person has the right to request that life-sustaining medical treatment be withheld.

U.S. District Judge Harold Ackerman in Newark, who had been waiting for the justices to rule before acting on a stay application filed in his court, also refused to intervene.

The denials left the family legally free to order removal of the feeding tubes unless a federal appeals court in Philadelphia reversed Ackerman’s decision.

Thursday’s frantic legal maneuvering by lawyers for the nursing home was all part of the aftermath of a New Jersey high court ruling last month in which relatives won permission to remove Jobes’ feeding tubes and allow her to starve to death.

Jobes has been comatose since she suffered irreversible brain damage in an April, 1980, operation to remove a dead fetus after an automobile accident.