Court date Tuesday for terminally ill woman

The state Appellate Division, Second Department, denied a

The state Appellate Division, Second Department, denied a petition by Sungeun Grace Lee's parents to stay a restraining order that prevented hospital officials from removing her from a respirator. (Credit: Handout)

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A lawyer for a terminally ill woman at the center of a right-to-die dispute with her parents will return to court Tuesday, but he said the controversy is largely over since his client now no longer wants to end her own life.

David Smith, of Garden City, said he visited with his client, Sungeun Grace Lee, Monday at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, and she wants to remain on a ventilator.

"There's not really anything left to litigate," said Smith, adding that Lee is happy that the legal dispute is over and she is back on good terms with her parents. Jeffrey Forcelli, of Uniondale, a lawyer for Lee's parents, agreed that the legal controversy is largely resolved.

Lee, 28, a New York City bank manager, was rushed to the Manhasset hospital Sept. 3 after suffering seizures. She was diagnosed last year with a tumor on her brain stem.

Lee, who is paralyzed from the neck down, had previously indicated she wanted to be removed from life support. Her father, Man Ho Lee, pastor of Antioch Missionary Church in Flushing, Queens, and her mother, Jin Ah Lee, sought a restraining order to prevent that. The parents argued that removing the ventilator would be suicide and against biblical teaching.

A state appellate court Friday denied the parents' petition, which had cleared the way for the hospital to remove Lee from life support before Lee's change of heart.

Lawyers for Lee and her parents both said they are exploring the possibility of transferring Lee to a different facility such as a nursing home.

However, they say, the places that provide the services she needs are few, and they have not found a suitable alternative yet.

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