“Few people are more central to changing the shape of how we die in
Marilyn Webb, author of The Good Death
After her accident, they worked tirelessly to help bring her back to consciousness, without success. After five years, the family finally accepted that Nancy's condition would never improve. Already worn out from losing the fight to bring
Bill Colby was the Cruzan family’s lawyer, who guided them through a protracted legal journey leading, ultimately, to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the process, Colby witnessed the emotional toll the entire experience exacted upon the Cruzan family.
After several suits between the Cruzan family and the state's attorney general in the Missouri court system, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear its first right-to-die case, that of Nancy Cruzan. In a 5-4 decision, the Cruzans lost. Buried in hundreds of pages of the Supreme Court’s opinion, however, Colby found the key that would allow them to retry the case back in
The case of Nancy Cruzan personalizes the many ethical and medical gray areas surrounding the point (if one exists) when quality of life is so diminished it isn’t worth living: a threshold the public has yet to define. Mr. Colby's discussions of the case forces questions about the definition and moral validity of euthanasia and raises many unanswered questions that have emerged in the wake of medical advances over the value of life.
Much has changed in the nearly 14 years since
The 22 September Medical Center Hour examines "The Legacy of Nancy Cruzan" with special guest speaker, Bill Colby .
PBS's "Frontline" devoted an episode to the case, and their site contains a brief description, as well as a link to a transcript of the entire broadcast: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/programs/info/1014.html
The American Medical Association's web site has an article about the legacy of Nancy Cruzan:
Bill Colby's web site, www.longgoodbye.org, provides information about his book detailing the case of Nancy Cruzan, as well as a link to the Cruzan family foundation.