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Hastings Cent Rep. 1988 Dec;18(6):31-3.

Precatory prediction and mindless mimicry: the case of Mary O'Connor.

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Health Law Section, Boston University School of Medicine.



In re O'Connor (1988), a New York Court of Appeals decision ordering the artificial feeding of a profoundly incapacitated and demented woman, is sharply criticized for its rejection of the patient's previously expressed wishes concerning artificial means of prolonging life. The court based its decision on the grounds that imprecise statements should not be accepted and that there exists the possibility that O'Connor has since changed her mind. Annas argues that in denying the substituted judgment of the woman's daughters and the best interests approach, the court requires that patients and their families mimic the choices that physicians and judges would make, thereby violating the personal autonomy and constitutional rights of previously competent patients. He recommends that New York citizens complete durable power of attorney forms to designate an individual to make treatment decisions on their behalf.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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