Letters: Jahi McMath and the law

Re “Clash of science and faith,” Column, Jan. 4

As Sandy Banks rightly notes, marking the line between life and death can spark conflict between faith and medical science, with confusion, grief and anger further fanning the flames.

But in Jahi McMath’s case, California law has helped transform a largely private philosophical controversy into a highly public media firestorm. While almost every state defines brain death as legal death, some — notably New York and New Jersey — allow religious and other conscientious objectors to instead use cardio-respiratory criteria.

If California had such a law, perhaps this tragic controversy would have been resolved privately, permitting McMath’s family to grieve in peace. Instead, their grief has been compounded by having to resort to the courts and the media to prevent what they honestly believe is tantamount to murder.


Whatever our own views on the mysteries of life and death, we need not impose them on those who happen to disagree.

Joseph Sanderson

New Haven, Conn.



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