Linda Gott, Family Law: Life, Death, and the Incompetent Mentally Ill Patient. In re Grant, 109 Wn.2d 545, 747 P.2d 445 (1987), 25 Gonz. L. Rev. 167 (1989).
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In re Grant continues a series of Washington cases dealing with basic issues of life and death. The court has had to examine moral, ethical, and societal values as well as legal questions. None of the decisions have involved easy answers. In 1980, the Washington Supreme Court issued standards and guidelines to establish when a person’s death actually occurs. Once the time of death was established, the court had to decide if a person has the right to choose to die, when that right could be asserted, and how that right could be asserted. Grant establishes that the guardian of an incompetent person has the right to authorize withholding medical treatment that would artificially prolong life, including food and water, when that incompetent person becomes terminal.