By Sarah Quale — Two brothers in New York are battling for the fate of their mother, Arline Lester. One is fighting for her life and the other, her hastened death. New video evidence and a handwritten plea reveal Arline wants to live, but that decision is now in the hands of a judge.
Update: Arline Lester was forcibly euthanized on Thursday, January 16th. Our latest update has more details on what happened in this tragic case.
91-year-old Arline Lester of Long Island, New York, wants to live, despite her respirator and feeding tube, and said so in a video presented to the Nassau County (NY) Court by her son Edward. Edward is battling his brother who says his mother’s living will, drafted in the 1990s, expresses her desire not to be kept alive by artificial means. He brought the case before the court to ask for sole guardianship over his mother so he can have Arline’s feeding tube and respirator disconnected, which would lead to her starvation and suffocation. But Edward has produced recent evidence that, he says, supersedes his mother’s original living will and shows her health is improving. And Arline herself has expressed very clearly that she wants to live.
Please consider helping to fund Edward’s legal expenses as he defends his mother. We’re using an ethical alternate to Go Fund Me to help this family. Click here to give whatever amount you can.
In this video, recorded in November, 2019, at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan, Arline mouths “I want to stay alive,” and nods her agreement with several life-affirming statements made by Edward.
Before Nassau County Court Judge Julianne Capetola issued a gag order on Monday, forbidding the brothers from speaking to the media about the case, a family member indicated that Arline “is able to communicate her wants and needs through shaking her head.” But on New Year’s Day, her 91st birthday, Arline regained her speech.
The following video, filmed over the weekend, was made available to the Personhood Alliance before the gag order went into effect. The video shows Arline alert and speaking on her own. When asked if she is in pain, she shakes her head no and clearly says, “Thank you.”
Edward told a local ABC News reporter, “You can have respiratory failure and improve and be back to normal. You can have a feeding tube and improve and be back to normal.” Edward explained that his mother recently had her leg amputated, but that amputation is not fatal. “She wants to live and we’re here to see that she does.” He also told the reporter that his mother made him power of attorney in November and “wrote 17 times on a piece of paper that she wants to revoke that 1991 living will.”
Arline was also recently evaluated as mentally capable of making her own decisions.
Both brothers are being heard during trial all this week in Nassau County Court.
Help with legal expenses
We have set up a fundraiser, using an ethical alternative to Go Fund Me, to raise money to help Edward pay for legal expenses. Please consider donating much-needed funds here: https://www.wonderwe.com/8vjhly3
The trial is happening right now and Edward’s legal team is in dire need of funds for such basic things as paying for court transcripts and mounting a possible appeal. Now is the time for pro-lifers to unite behind a family in need! Please give what you can. 100% of the funds will go to help defend Arline’s right to life.
Sarah Quale is president of Personhood Alliance Education, the educational arm of the Personhood Alliance, and the author of the Foundations online pro-life curriculum. She is a member of the International Christian Visual Media Association and Christian Women in Media and is the founder of Educe® online learning.