Just Plain Cruel

A few weeks back, I wrote a post asking for input on the case in Texas where a pregnant mother who is brain-dead is kept “alive” to basically act as an incubator.

Today brings a disturbing update, that the fetus has severe deformities.

I would love your thoughts.


2 Responses to Just Plain Cruel

  1. ryan85 says:

    My goodness. I had not heard of this scenario. That is so hard. Unfortunately, there are multiple things in play. The hospital is likely stuck and forced into unenviable spot due to a previous lawsuit or a legally sound (even if emotionally callous) policy that binds them. If they violate policy they expose themselves to suit, but if they do they further expose themselves. Talk about extenuating circumstances!

    Jeni and I just did our living wills and would never have imagined this scenario. I’m surprised Texas had a statute in place.

    There are financial questions to consider. If she has a living will and if the husband is acting with Power of Attorney to enforce it, but the hospital refuses due to policy and law, who absorbs the cost? I imagine an insurance company would get legally involved to avoid payment. More mud in the water.

    It’s ironic how medical advances have created these end of life scenarios. Had she died in the street (sorry for the crassness) the baby would have also died. But because our people and technology can do incredible things we’re in a medical ethics quandary.

    I think we have to reduce it down to the most fundamental pieces. Is the woman being sustained by unnatural means, meaning she would be dead already if she weren’t hooked up? Were those addressed in her Living Will or by her husband? We know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we don’t have the medical ability to rescue the baby. (If the baby were 20+ weeks when this happened they would likely have given her a C-Section and this scenario wouldn’t present.) Assuming the first two questions are answered, ‘Yes,’ then I think it’s morally and medically correct, as sad as it is, that the baby die as well. There really is nothing we can do. I may be wrong, but I also think it would not violate any Pro-Life principle.

    Man. That’s just hard.

    • TommyK says:

      From what I have read, at the time the woman collapsed and was deprived of oxygen and delcared brain dead, she was about 12 weeks along or so. Other articles have pointed to her wishes, as expressed in a Living Will, as not wanting to be hooked up to any machines the way that she is. To answer one of your questions, I believe that I read somewhere that she would be dead if she were not currently hooked up to any machines.

      It is a tough situation, and it really is not (at least to me) a Pro-Life or Pro-Choice sort of thing. It is really a matter of her wishes, as expressed in her Living Will, to not be maintained in such a manner.

      I really don’t think you were being crass at all with using death in the street as an example.

      I don’t think that many people envision this type of scenario when having a Living Will drawn up; like you and Jeni, Amber and I each have one, but this type of thing is not covered.

      Your last line captured the essence of the whole situation, “Man. That’s just hard.”

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