The Law: Dilemma in Dying

Weak and in agony, Carmen Martinez, 72, pleaded for the right to a peaceful death. Hospitalized in Hialeah, Fla., for almost two months, she had a fatal form of hemolytic anemia, a blood disease. The treatment that was keeping her alive involved surgical incisions into her withered veins so that almost continual blood transfusions could be forced in. "Please don't torture me any more," she begged her doctor, Rolando Lopez. Many doctors routinely, if quietly, withhold life-preserving treatment when they determine that its only effect will be to prolong the agony of dying. But Dr. Lopez was concerned that he might...

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