Wisconsin Court Case Similar To Terry Schiavo Legal Battle

The Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1997 ruled on a case similar to Terry Schiavo's in Florida.

It involved a 71-year-old woman in Wood County only identified in court documents as Edna M-F. Her sister and legal guardian, Betty Spahn, wanted the nursing home to remove her feeding tube. There was no clear directive from Edna, who suffered from dementia. Doctors treating her determined she was not in a vegetative state.

Like the Schiavo case, the court was asked to determine what Edna's wishes were.

The Supreme Court upheld a Wood County Circuit Court decision which denied Spahn's request to have the feeding tube removed.

About a year after the Supreme Court decision, Edna was found to be in a persistent vegetative state and the feeding tube was removed. She died about ten days later.

Former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske says the case and the one in Florida shows people need to have a frank discussion with their family members about such matters -- and leave clear written directions.