Philly Battle Echoes Schiavo Case

A judge temporarily barred a Philadelphia woman from prolonging her husband's life with a feeding tube, which his daughter claims is contrary to his wishes.

Like the federal court battle over the removal of Terri Schiavo's (search) feeding tube in Florida, the Bucks County Court case of Alzheimer's disease victim John P. King Jr. (search) is complicated by disagreement among family members.

Unlike Schiavo, the 72-year-old King had signed a living will, but the document didn't avert the dispute that led to a preliminary injunction signed late Tuesday by President Judge David W. Heckler (search).

The injunction says King may not be nourished through a tube pending a hearing Heckler has scheduled for Monday.

King's daughter, Mariann Judith Clunk, of Hatboro, filed the lawsuit, saying her father suffers from the late stages of Alzheimer's disease and has deteriorated into an unconscious condition.

The lawsuit includes a copy of a living will King signed in 1998 saying he has a "firm and settled commitment to refuse life-sustaining treatment."

If he were ever to be in a "state of permanent unconsciousness," King said in the document, "I do not want tube feeding or any other artificial invasive form of nutrition or hydration."

Clunk said she believed her mother, Ann King of Philadelphia, intended to have her husband nourished through a feeding tube.

Ann King said she had asked for insertion of a feeding tube. "I have been talking to the doctor about it for while," she said. She said she didn't know about the injunction, and declined to comment further.

Though the living will stated King's opposition to a feeding tube in the event of permanent unconsciousness, it also named Ann King as her husband's surrogate, with the power to carry out his wishes if he is "unable or incompetent to make or express a decision."

Clunk and King's son, John P. King III, were named as alternate co-surrogates.

Clunk's attorney, Joseph M. Masiuk, declined to discuss whether Clunk's authority would outweigh Ann King's, but said Ann King had no power to alter the terms of the living will.

"The issue is what John P. King Jr. wants. That is clear by the terms of his living will," Masiuk said.