Exercise 8-4 (p. 125) vegetative patient, refusal of treatment, and patient autonomy, discussion help

This weeks discussion focuses on Exercise 8-4 (p. 125). The case is a landmark case in the health field and focuses on a vegetative patient, refusal of treatment, and patient autonomy.

Reply to Others: Your reply should be at minimum 250 words. In your reply, you will challenge the author’s placement of burden of proof and present either a convergent or linked argument that the burden should be placed elsewhere.


I think the burden of proof should be split between two parties. The burden of proof is the duty of a party in a trial to produce the evidence that will prove the claims they have made against the other party. In this case, Nancy Cruzan’s family believed that to stop all life-sustaining treatment is Nancy’s wish. Nancy is incapable of speaking, recognizing or regaining any basic cognitive functioning, so she cannot speak up for herself. But her family knew her and is the closest people around her. They provided her medical treatment for the vegetative state. It indicates that her family still had hope on her, and they love her. Even though Nancy’s family wanted to stop the treatment then, but they believed that is Nancy’s wish, too. On the other hand, the law in Missouri claims that the removal of life support is legal with the permission of the patient. I agree with Dworkin that in such cases there should be no starting presumption favoring either sustaining life or allowing death. But in a legal dispute, one party is initially presumed to be correct and gets the benefit of the doubt, while the other side bears the burden of proof. That the individuals should be kept alive is considered a correct presumption, so it seemed that stopping the treatment is inadvisable. The permanent vegetative state is a different issue. Therefore, we do not have to presume which party is correct, but consider which party’s proof is more convincible.

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