- (Photo: Facebook/Save Grace Sungeun Lee)
A day after a state appeals court said a terminally ill woman is capable of making her own medical decisions, Grace Sungeun Lee has decided to remain on life support.
The court cleared the way on Friday for North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., to remove the breathing tube from the 28-year-old woman – against the wishes of her parents – after doctors and hospital staff insisted that she clearly expressed her desire to be taken off life support. But on Saturday, Lee's court appointed attorney said she wants to stay on the ventilator.
According to ABC News, Lee, who has brain cancer, signed a health care proxy that allows her father to make medical decisions for her.
Lee, who is paralyzed from the neck down, told the attorney that she wanted to make peace with her family and God.
Since her case drew national attention, much of the media has been labeling the case as Lee fighting for her "right to die."
Dr. Kevin Staley, adjunct professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, says there is an increasing push to endorse the ending of one's own life as a "fundamental human right."
"I would assert that there is biblical support to argue that no human being is entitled to such a right," he told The Christian Post. "On the contrary, there is much more support for life and life affirming actions in God's. Life is a gift from God, therefore, our lives are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We do not hold absolute autonomy over ourselves."
With that said, Staley noted that he doesn't view this specific case as a "right to die" case.
"Her circumstances appear to justify passive euthanasia," he explained. "Let's be clear, the action of removing her breathing tube is not directly causing her death, it is the terminal and irreversible disease that would be the direct cause of her death."
Lee's parents have been trying to prevent the hospital from removing her breathing tube over the past few weeks. Lee was admitted in early September after suffering seizures and doctors have said she only has weeks or, at most, a few months to live.
A temporary restraining order blocking the hospital from taking action was lifted last week after Lee's doctors testified that she repeatedly asked for her breathing tube to be taken out. But her family believes Lee has depression, has been heavily affected by various medications and is being influenced by doctors.
Her father, the Rev. Man Ho Lee, who leads Antioch Missionary Church in New York, has also expressed his belief that being removed from life support would constitute suicide, which is a sin. But the family has stressed that this is not a religious issue. They are confident that she will get better and want to help fulfill her wish of continuing missionary work overseas.
This week, the family uploaded a video showing Lee clearly agreeing to her father making the decisions for her and to wanting to go into a nursing home. They also set up a "Save Grace SungEun Lee" Facebook page to garner support and are collecting thousands of petitions to keep Lee on life support.
According to the latest update on the Facebook page, Lee "really wants to get out of the hospital" but needs a wheelchair that can support her neck and be attached to a ventilator. The post was made Saturday afternoon.
Expressing sympathy for the family, Staley commented, "The pain that a sudden turn of events like these bring into the lives of those who share a deep love for one another, for life, and for God is truly tragic. We all ought to temper our judgments of both Grace and her parents with compassion, acknowledging how difficult it must be to live through such an ordeal."