I found the article repinted below in the San Jose Mercury News, about an "End of Life" case going on right now in Fresno. Thanks go to fellow Personal Family Lawyer John Erik Fraker of the firm Ainer & Fraker, for alerting me to this case.
As the title indicates, there are definite parallels to the Terry Schiavo case.
The potentially more terrifying part about this case: The family is in agreement that she should be kept alive, but it is the Public Guardian (acting as conservator) who is petitioning the Court to remove life support – WITHOUT any indication that this is what the patient would have wanted.
If that doesn’t get you motivated to fill out an advance directive, nothing will.
A question of life support
FRESNO – Three years after the fight over Terri Schiavo pulled the nation into the end-of-life debate, the case of a comatose Fresno County woman is reopening old wounds – and could prove more inflammatory.
The family of Janet Rivera, 46, wants to keep her alive in a Fresno hospital. The county, acting as her legal guardian, wants a court to decide whether that’s the right thing to do.
Among the questions her situation has raised: Should a government agency be able to overrule family members and withhold life support when the patient’s wishes are unknown?
The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation helped find a lawyer to represent the Rivera family, said Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler.
Rivera’s situation is more alarming than his sister’s, he said. "We had a family dispute," he said. "This is a family in agreement."
Doctors said Schiavo, 41, was in a persistent vegetative state, and her husband, Michael Schiavo, decided to have the feeding tube removed. The Schindlers wanted her kept alive. After a lengthy court fight, the tube was removed in 2005; she died 13 days later.
In Rivera’s case, the county became involved after the hospital contacted the Public Guardian’s Office. According to court records, one of the concerns was that Rivera’s conservator at the time – her husband – was not making decisions related to his wife’s health.
Dr. David Hadden, the county’s coroner, public administrator and guardian, has said the county did not seek to become conservator. He said he decided to seek a judge’s opinion because five doctors have said Rivera’s condition is untreatable and irreversible.
The county removed life support July 11 but had it reinstated Tuesday. Hadden said he restored it because Rivera was surviving longer than expected and he wanted to hear a judge’s opinion. A Fresno County judge on Wednesday granted a temporary order for life support to continue until the case is heard this week.
Rivera has been comatose for two years following a heart attack. It’s unclear what her preferences about life support would be.
"We never really talked about life and death things much," said Rivera’s brother, Michael Dancoff of Berkeley.
Experts say the county is taking a chance by trying to make an end-of-life decision for Rivera.
It’s unusual for a conservator to argue for removing life support without evidence that’s what the patient would want, said David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics.
While Hadden says financial considerations have played no role in deciding whether to keep her on life support, her family contends Rivera might not be in this situation if she had more money or better health-care coverage. Rivera’s medical bills are being paid by Medi-Cal, the state-federal insurance program for low-income families.