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Grace Sung Eun Lee fights for right to die, chooses life

October 07, 2012|By Matt Pearce

A terminally ill New York woman fought her religious parents in court for the right to die on her own terms, going so far as to say, “I want to die.”

Now she’s changed her mind.

Grace Sung Eun Lee, 28, was a New York City financial manager until she developed a brain tumor that put her in the hospital Sept. 3.

The doctors put her on life support at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., to keep her alive, but after a while, she wanted off. That put her on a collision course with her highly conservative parents, Manho Lee and Jin-ah Lee, who believe she would go to hell if she chose to die.

"When someone sets a date and time to die, that is suicide. And suicide is a sin," Lee’s father, a Flushing, N.Y., pastor, said at a news conference Friday,  according to ABC News.

A court battle ensued that tilted in Grace Sung Eun Lee’s favor, ending with a New York Court of Appeals ruling Friday that she was competent to make a decision on removing her ventilator and feeding tubes.

She took that victory and then made a legal move the next day to designate her father as her healthcare guardian.

An edited YouTube video posted Thursday  shows a man standing over her and asking,  “Are you willing to sign your medical proxy over to your father?” She appears to answer, “Yes.” He also asks, “When do you want to leave to the nursing home?” She appears to answer, “Now.”

“What Grace said to me when I asked her, she said she was doing it to make peace with her parents and to make peace with God,” her court-appointed attorney, David Smith, told CBS New York.

“She told us she wanted to live,” her brother, Paul Lee, 30, told the New York Daily News. “The truth is told.”

Doctors don’t think she has much time left. Meanwhile, Lee’s parents’ attorney, Mary Giordano, told CBS that guardianship proceedings would happen Tuesday at Nassau County Supreme Court.

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