The Law: Sentenced to Life

For eleven days, Superior Court Judge Robert Muir Jr. of Morris County, N.J., pondered the painful, unprecedented legal problem: Did the anguished parents of 21-year-old Karen Anne Quinlan have the right to switch off the respirator that had kept her alive since she fell into a deep coma in April? Last week Muir announced his decision. In a 44-page ruling, he noted sadly that he had to discount "the compassion, empathy, sympathy" he felt toward the Quinlan family. Both "judicial conscience and morality," he went on, told him that Karen's fate was being handled properly by "the treating physician." Since her...

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