Karen Ann Quinlan (March 29, 1954-June 11, 1985) was an important figure in the history of the right to die debate. In 1975, Quinlan collapsed at a party, apparently after consuming alcohol and tranquilizers. She suffered irreversable brain damage after undergoing extended periods of not breathing.
Her parents wished to have her taken off the respirator that was sustaining her, but the physician refused. The Quinlans took their case to the New Jersey Supreme Court, who sided with the parents. After the daughter was taken off the respirator, she continued to live for several years, and died in 1985.