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San Diego County Digest

La Mesa

May 07, 1987

All sides in the first San Diego "right to die" lawsuit entered into an agreement Wednesday that the woman's doctor and nursing-home employees will refrain from discussing the woman's medical condition with the media or public.

"We want the press battle . . . to be over," said attorney Richard Scott, who represents Helen Gary in her lawsuit against Dr. Allen Jay and a La Mesa nursing home.

Scott had prepared to go to court Wednesday seeking an order barring Jay from distributing photos of Gary's mother, Anna Hirth, to the media and from making comments about her condition.

But San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Benke suggested that all the attorneys meet to hammer out an agreement, which they did an hour later. The stipulation was read into the court record and then Benke made it into an order.

The agreement also bars Jay or Hacienda de La Mesa nursing home from "releasing information regarding the continued presence of Anna Hirth at Hacienda de La Mesa or her departure from that facility to any person not authorized by this court."

The stipulation about photographs refers to Scott's allegation that Jay arranged for a newspaper photographer to take pictures of Hirth. A picture published in the Tribune showed Hirth, 92, propped up in a chair, with a feeding tube running from her nose.

Jay has denied arranging for the photographs. Afterward, he said he was satisfied with the stipulation.

"I still have my feelings about (the case) and defend my constitutional right not to be forced to kill someone," Jay said.

Previously Jay has contended that Hirth's condition is improving, and he has refused to follow a ruling allowing Hirth to have her feeding tube withdrawn and die. He said other doctors have refused to become Hirth's physician and allow her to die.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Milton Milkes ruled in Gary's favor to have the tube withdrawn but put the burden on Gary to find a facility that would allow her to do that.

"We won but didn't win anything," said Scott about Milkes' order.

Scott recently has filed a writ to the 4th District Court of Appeal to see if they would intervene in the case.

Hirth apparently suffered brain damage and has been in a semicomatose condition since she choked on some food in February, 1986.

The order allows Hirth's daughter or her attorneys to comment about Hirth's medical condition.

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