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Justices Refuse To Intervene In New Jersey Feeding Tube Case

July 24, 1987

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the family of a 32-year-old comatose woman to remove her life-sustaining feeding tube, but the family planned to await the outcome of yet another appeal, attorneys say.

Judge James Hunter III of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, at a hearing today in Camden, referred the case to the full court in Philadelphia.

At issue is whether the civil rights of Nancy Ellen Jobes would be violated if her feeding tube were removed. A nursing home that opposes the family’s plans requested the hearing.

The nation’s highest court Thursday, without comment or recorded dissent, declined to stay a June state Supreme Court decision that Mrs. Jobes’ feeding tube could be disconnected and she could be allowed to die.

Mrs. Jobes’ husband, John, said the family would not immediately remove the tube because they wanted to discuss the situation with their attorneys and medical officials and wait for an end to any potential litigation.

The nursing home where Mrs. Jobes stayed for seven years asked U.S. District Judge Harold A. Ackerman earlier this week to issue a temporary restraining order on grounds that Mrs. Jobes has not received due process.

″The high court of New Jersey has spoken. The Supreme Court of the United States saw no reason to interfere with that decision and neither do I,″ Ackerman said Thursday.

Family members expressed relief over the Supreme Court ruling and anger that the nursing home pressed its case. ″I’m fed up with their attempts to interfere in what is a family matter, a private matter,″ Jobes said.

Paul W. Armstrong, the family’s attorney, called the nursing home officials idealogues. ″They’re attempting to transfer Mrs. Jobes’ plight into a platform for their beliefs,″ he said.

Richard J. Traynor, the attorney for the nursing home, said Thursday’s rulings meant ″the medical ethics we’ve practiced for 2,000 years have been turned over topsy-turvy.″

Mrs. Jobes has been in a coma since a 1980 auto accident. Her family has said Mrs. Jobes had expressed a desire not to be kept alive by artificial means.

Because of the legal position of the nursing home, Mrs. Jobes was moved Sunday to Morristown Memorial Hospital.

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