POSTED: Saturday, October 13, 2012 - 5:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, October 13, 2012 - 5:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — The parents of a terminally ill New York City woman are waging a court battle over whether to keep her on life support.
A brain-stem tumor has paralyzed 28-year-old Grace Sung Eun Lee from the neck down, and she depends on a tube to eat and one to breathe.
Doctors say the once-active young banker, who was training for the New York Marathon, has only weeks to live, but she doesn't want to wait.
"She wants to die, and she wants to die now," said David Smith, her court-appointed attorney.
The doctors at Long Island's North Shore University Hospital say they would like to respect Lee's wishes and remove her feeding and breathing tubes.
But Lee's devout parents -- religious Korean immigrants -- say that would be suicide and would keep her from going to heaven.
"I believe if you set the day and time of your death, you're committing suicide and that is a sin," said Lee's father, the Rev. Manho Lee, through an interpreter.
Speaking at a news conference in their attorney's office Thursday, the minister and his wife, Jin-ah Lee, claimed their always-obedient daughter who headed a youth group at their church in Queens would never willingly end her God-given life and that she had been unduly influenced by doctors.
"They went right for it and were insensitive to the family," said Jeffrey Forchelli, the Lees' attorney.
Lee is in critical condition at North Shore in Manhasset.
She can only mouth words and shake her head yes or no.
The hospital has stated it follows the wishes of the patient when it comes to life-ending decisions.
A lower court judge had ruled Lee was competent to make her choice.
If the Appellate Division Court in Brooklyn vacates the restraining order, Lee's breathing tube would be removed and "Grace would die within minutes," according to Smith.
"There's no winners in this. That's what makes it so gut-wrenching," he said.