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Karen Ann Quinlan

From Academic Kids

Karen Ann Quinlan (March 29, 1954June 11, 1985) was an important figure in the history of the right to die debate. Her case raised important questions in bioethics, euthanasia, legal guardianship and civil rights.

In April 1975, Quinlan went on a radical diet, reportedly in order to fit into a dress that she had recently bought. On April 15, having eaten nothing but a few slices of bread over a period of roughly 48 hours, she attended a party at a friend's house. After consuming alcohol (tranquilizer usage has not been confirmed by her family), Quinlan told her friends that she was feeling dizzy and went off to lie down on her friend's bed. She was found a while later by partygoers, unconscious and not breathing. She suffered irreversible brain damage after experiencing an extended period of respiratory failure, and subsequently was placed on a respirator in hospital. No precise cause of her respiratory failure has been given, although her mother has said that the doctors' best guess was that she fell asleep or passed out and choked on her own vomit. This could have been caused by the combination of alcohol and the weakness caused by her self-imposed deprivation of food.

Her parents wanted to have her taken off the respirator that was sustaining her, but hospital officials refused. In 1976, the Quinlans took their case to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which sided with her parents in its decision. Quinlan surprised many when she was taken off the respirator by continuing to breathe unaided, and was fed by artificial nutrition for nine more years. She lived in a persistent vegetative state until her death from pneumonia in 1985.

See also

External links

  • Karen Ann Quinlan (http://www.answers.com/topic/karen-ann-quinlan) - from Answers.com. It has a picture of Quinlan.
  • Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, History page (http://www.karenannquinlanhospice.org/new_page_3.htm) - for a more personal and extensive history (also accessible via the first link).
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