Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health (1990)

Definition - What does Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health (1990) mean?

Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health (1990) was a controversial Supreme Court decision that ruled that incompetent persons were not capable of refusing medical treatment. The case also reflected the Supreme Court’s unwillingness to invalidate state laws that specifically prohibited family members from terminating life support on behalf of incapacitated relatives.

Justipedia explains Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health (1990)

The plaintiffs in Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health (1990) were the parents of a young woman, Nancy Beth Cruzan, who had been involved in an automobile accident. In the words of the court, the accident left Cruzan in a “persistent vegetative state.” Her parents wanted to terminate their daughter’s life support, but Missouri state law required a court approval for the termination.

Missouri courts required clear and convincing evidence from incompetent patients that the patient wanted to refuse treatment before life support would be terminated. Ultimately, the Supreme Court reasoned that there could be no guarantee that family members would act in the best interests of their incompetent patients, and that death is irreversible to uphold the Missouri law.

Share this:

Connect with us

Find a Lawyer