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Court Steps In in Right-to-Die Case

October 8, 1998

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) _ A federal judge Thursday rejected an emergency request from a conservative state legislator that a feeding tube be reinserted into a severely brain-damaged man.

U.S. District Judge Albert Bryan held a hearing by telephone shortly after state Delegate Robert Marshall made the request. The judge did not publicly explain his ruling.

Marshall had argued that depriving Hugh Finn of water and food violates Medicaid guidelines.

After a court battle between relatives, the tube was removed Oct. 1 at the request of Finn’s wife. Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore lost a bid to prevent the removal, then failed in a bid to get the tube reinserted.

The former Louisville, Ky., anchorman has been in a vegetative state since an auto accident 3 1/2 years ago and cannot eat, communicate or care for himself.

Finn’s wife, Michele, said he had told her he would not wish to live in such a condition. Under Virginia law, food and water may be withheld from people like Finn who have been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state.

Finn, a Medicaid patient, has been in a Manassas nursing home since 1996. Marshall, a Republican, argued that withdrawing food and water violates regulations of the federal-state Medicaid program.

Doctors said Finn would live for only a couple of weeks after the tube was removed.

``This was the last stone to turn over, and I wanted to turn it over,″ said Marshall, who has organized protests outside the nursing home.

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