UPDATE: Things took a turn for the worse yesterday. The O2 sat rate dipped, and the ventilator was kept on. After an examination by the intensivist and a neurologist (low oxygen = brain damage, just a matter of how much), and a negotiation between the proxy and the medical staff, it was agreed that if the patient did not show improvement by this morning, the hospital would agree to terminate life support.
It shouldn't have been a negotiation, in my book, nor should the proxy have had to be consulted, except as to the timing of the withdrawal.
I understand the conditions of the hospital. For every patient they screw up on, it costs five more patients appropriate care in terms of time, resources and scared doctors. The policies and the procedures they follow are designed to avert risk.
Still, I can't help but think this was a situation where everyone, even the doctors, had clear-cut instructions, and that the care of the patient is primarily medical but secondarily about the quality of his life.