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  #1  
Old 01-03-2014, 06:23 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is online now
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Texas law won't allow pregnant woman to be taken off life support

From the Dallas News: Marlise Munoz, 33, has been completely brain-dead since she suffered a pulmonary embolism after Thanksgiving. She made clear before it happened that she didn't want to be kept alive by artificial means, and her family wants to take her off life support. But she's pregnant, and in Texas.

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Electric shocks and drugs started her heart again and it continued beating with mechanical support, but her brain waves were completely flat. She had gone without breathing for too long to ever recover.

But when the heartbroken family was ready to say goodbye, hospital officials said they could not legally disconnect Marlise from life support. At the time she collapsed, she was 14 weeks’ pregnant.

And because doctors could still detect a fetal heartbeat, state law says Marlise Munoz’s body -- against her own and her family’s wishes -- must be maintained as an unwilling incubator.

“That poor fetus had the same lack of oxygen, the same electric shocks, the same chemicals that got her heart going again,” Machado said. “For all we know, it’s in the same condition that Marlise is in.”

Because of the fetus’ poor prognosis, the family has said publicly that they want to allow it to die peacefully, along with its mother.

But after the bewildered family protested the fine print in the law during television interviews shortly before Christmas, the case exploded into an online argument between vehement anti-abortion and abortion-rights factions.

Some of the posted comments were vicious, accusing Erick Munoz -- a grief-stricken father and husband -- of wanting to “pull the plug” and “get rid” of his wife and baby.

Others -- strangers who don’t know these people -- claim Marlise “might wake up” or cling to slim odds that the oxygen-deprived fetus might be miraculously healthy.

“It turned into a right or left argument,” Whetstone said, explaining that Munoz has declined public comment on the case since reading some of the more vitriolic online comments. “That’s not really how the family sees this.”

Hospital authorities have declined all comment, other than to say they have no choice but to follow state law.

According to a 2012 report by the Center for Women Policy Studies, laws governing end-of-life preferences for pregnant women vary by state. Texas is one of 12 that automatically invalidates a woman’s legal prerogative if she “is diagnosed with pregnancy.”

“These are the most restrictive of the pregnancy exclusion statutes, stating that, regardless of the progression of the pregnancy, a woman must remain on life-sustaining treatment until she gives birth,” the report says.
So, I Pit the Texas legislature for being so narrowminded and heartless on this particular point; and secondarily I Pit everyone -- including myself, potentially, since I'm posting this thread -- who is trying to turn these people's sad personal story into a far-more-tragic rendition of a Citizen Ruth/Terry Schiavo crossover.

Last edited by BrainGlutton; 01-03-2014 at 06:25 PM..
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  #2  
Old 01-03-2014, 06:56 PM
bump bump is online now
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
So, I Pit the Texas legislature for being so narrowminded and heartless on this particular point; and secondarily I Pit everyone -- including myself, potentially, since I'm posting this thread -- who is trying to turn these people's sad personal story into a far-more-tragic rendition of a Citizen Ruth/Terry Schiavo crossover.
The ironic thing is that the rest of the act (Texas Advance Directives Act) is concerned with the exact opposite situation; the hospital's right to discontinue extraordinary treatment in the case of terminally ill patients.

After reading the act, I think the hospital's misreading law rather than the law itself being particularly heartless in this regard. The text they're pointing to reads:

Quote:
A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.
I'm guessing that the spirit of the law is that if the baby's fine but the mother's terminally ill, the act doesn't really apply as written, in the interest of the baby's life. When laws are ambiguous or vague, they get hashed out in the courts, just like is probably going to happen here in short order.
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Old 01-03-2014, 09:37 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Did she explicitly say she wanted to be taken off life support even if she was pregnant? It's probably not a situation most women would have specifically thought about.

Overall, I would tend to agree with the law on this one. The main argument against forcing a woman to carry a foetus to term is the negative impact it would have on her life. And to be blunt, that's not an issue here - for all practical purposes, Marlise Munoz no longer has a life that can negatively effected. So keep her body alive long enough for the baby to be born and then shut off the life support.

I'll grant that the viability of the foetus is an issue. But I'm no going to accept the father's opinion that "For all we know, it's in the same condition that Marlise is in" as a medical finding.
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Old 01-03-2014, 09:53 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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RO, with nowhere near the info needed in the article to judge either way.

And what's up with pitting yourself for contributing to the problem you are so concerned about. Have you considered a 12 step program? I'm sure you could find one in Texas that would be just right.

Last edited by John Mace; 01-03-2014 at 09:54 PM..
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Old 01-03-2014, 10:05 PM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is online now
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Is it too late for an abortion under Texas law? And, even if not, can the husband, his wife's 'surrogate decision maker' (or 'Power of Attorney for personal care' or whatever) request and be granted an abortion for his wife? I assume not or they would have tried to go that route.

Little Nemo - you really think that a woman who explicitly declared that she didn't want to be kept alive by artificial means would want her brainless body to be used as hatchery (while she is kept alive by artificial means)? Can people not be allowed to make their own decisions about their bodies and lives without the Government and the self-righteous trying to exert control.

And, no doubt, Texas prides itself in the freedom found there. Yeah, freedom to do what the zealots permit.
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Old 01-03-2014, 11:06 PM
bump bump is online now
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Did you not read before you went off on your crazy rant?

It's a single line in a bill intended to specifically allow health care professionals to pull the plug in cases of terminal illness.

They put the single line in for the situation where the mother may be brain-dead or whatever, but the fetus is fine, which we'd all agree is reasonable to prevent the removal of life-sustaining treatment in that case.

This case wasn't foreseen by that law, so it'll have to be hashed out in the courts; no judge has had a hearing on it yet that I'm aware of. It's not the state so far, it's John Peter Smith Hospital saying no, and there are quite a few other articles where lawyers and other legal experts say that the hospital is misinterpreting the statute.

That clearly doesn't matter though because you're just so eager to get in and bash Texas and conservative people, even if your facts are wrong or misunderstood.
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Old 01-04-2014, 05:34 AM
Merneith Merneith is online now
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Originally Posted by bump View Post
It's a single line in a bill intended to specifically allow health care professionals to pull the plug in cases of terminal illness.

They put the single line in for the situation where the mother may be brain-dead or whatever, but the fetus is fine, which we'd all agree is reasonable to prevent the removal of life-sustaining treatment in that case.
Speaking of not getting your facts straight - no, we wouldn't all agree that it's reasonable to keep a woman's brainless body alive in order to incubate a currently non-viable fetus over the orders of her next of kin and her own expressed desire not to find herself in that situation.

And we don't know that the fetus is "just fine". That's not a fact either. We won't know for months - at which point the next of kin will get stuck raising the child all alone and also stuck for six months of major medical bills. There's nothing fine about any of that either.

Not wanting to be responsible for the bill of six months of life support is, all by itself, a perfectly good reason to allow the fetus to die. It's not like there's some kind of fetus shortage in the world that we have to force people to care for this one.

So as usual, the Texans and Conservative People deserve any bashing they get.
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Old 01-04-2014, 08:27 AM
bump bump is online now
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Originally Posted by Merneith View Post
Speaking of not getting your facts straight - no, we wouldn't all agree that it's reasonable to keep a woman's brainless body alive in order to incubate a currently non-viable fetus over the orders of her next of kin and her own expressed desire not to find herself in that situation.

And we don't know that the fetus is "just fine". That's not a fact either. We won't know for months - at which point the next of kin will get stuck raising the child all alone and also stuck for six months of major medical bills. There's nothing fine about any of that either.

Not wanting to be responsible for the bill of six months of life support is, all by itself, a perfectly good reason to allow the fetus to die. It's not like there's some kind of fetus shortage in the world that we have to force people to care for this one.

So as usual, the Texans and Conservative People deserve any bashing they get.
Do a little more research. You're not seeing the forest for the trees.

It's the hospital misinterpreting a single line in a law that specifies the EXACT FUCKING OPPOSITE thing than keeping people alive. The law hasn't even been "applied" in this case yet- no judge has heard the case, no ruling has been made, etc... Right now, it's the hospital lawyers pushing their interpretation of the law against the family; no actual legal decisions or anything have been made yet.

The law is NOT some kind of wacko right-wing law specifically to keep fetuses alive at the expense of their mothers. The law in question is one that's expressly designed to let healthcare providers discontinue "futile care" and have immunity against prosecution or suit. The law would apply to that girl in California if she were in Texas.

There's ONE single line in that particular act that says "A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.", and I'm guessing that the spirit of the law is that if there's IS a viable fetus in a brain-dead woman, the hospital's not allowed to pull the plug on the mother in that situation. Seems reasonable as a general principle to me assuming the fetus is viable. Since the law's more intended for pulling the plug, not keeping mothers alive, they probably didn't think too much into that one line.

Now in the Munoz case, the hospital administrators are taking the most literalistic approach at interpreting that one line that they can. This'll have to be hashed out in the courts, like all vague or poorly phrased pieces of legislation are.

But for now, the courts aren't involved and haven't made any rulings, etc.. so quit jumping on people without doing the research.
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  #9  
Old 01-04-2014, 08:43 AM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
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The law in question appears to be clear and unambiguous on the point. You can't pull the plug on a pregnant woman in Texas. I disagree with the law, and wonder if it can survive legal challenge...but that challenge may take long enough to render it moot in this situation.
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:06 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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I cannot fathom any other way in which to read that line, bump, and I don't think you've done a good job of explaining this alternate interpretation you seem to be getting from it.
Quote:
A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.
Is it that you think there's some other subchapter of Texas law which would allow a person to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment* from a pregnant person?

Because I read it like the hospital reads it: there is legal protection for the person withdrawing "life sustaining treatment" from a person, unless that person happens to be pregnant. Because womb occupancy makes a person no longer a person, but a pregnant patient, and pregnant patients are treated differently than other patients.

No way in HELL I'd want to saddle my husband with the burden of caring for an oxygen deprived disabled child for it's whole life, especially without me to help.


*Can we please stop calling it "life-sustaining treatment" when it's done to dead people?
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:38 AM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is online now
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Does this law require the family to just suck it up and pay the medical costs? If the costs could be transferred to the state, the law would probably change pretty quick.
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:45 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is online now
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
I cannot fathom any other way in which to read that line, bump, and I don't think you've done a good job of explaining this alternate interpretation you seem to be getting from it.


Is it that you think there's some other subchapter of Texas law which would allow a person to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment* from a pregnant person?

Because I read it like the hospital reads it: there is legal protection for the person withdrawing "life sustaining treatment" from a person, unless that person happens to be pregnant. Because womb occupancy makes a person no longer a person, but a pregnant patient, and pregnant patients are treated differently than other patients.

No way in HELL I'd want to saddle my husband with the burden of caring for an oxygen deprived disabled child for it's whole life, especially without me to help.


*Can we please stop calling it "life-sustaining treatment" when it's done to dead people?
I think what he's saying is that the law normally allows the hospital to discontinue "futile" treatments against the wishes of the family/medical directives/whatever. However, the law was written to say that if a woman is, say, 34 weeks pregnant and in a car wreck and brain dead, the hospital can't discontinue support even though attempts to save the mother's life are futile.

I know that when I was pregnant, I would have wanted my body to be used as a "hatchery" if need be. I certainly wouldn't have had any objection. Were the baby viable, I wouldn't want someone else deciding I couldn't be a "hatchery" because it cost to much, or was macabre.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:04 AM
Septima Septima is offline
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I'm entirely ignorant of Texas law, and don't feel competent to have any opinion on this case in particular without significantly more facts, but if she was 14 weeks pregnant at the time she entered the coma - would she have been able to request an abortion? Or is the line 12 weeks, which seems to be the more common limit.

Because if she would be required to carry to term while alive and competent, I'm not seeing the difference (in principle, not necessarily in practice) between that and requiring her to do it while brain-dead.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:14 AM
DCnDC DCnDC is online now
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Possibly a dumb question, but can they just transfer her to a hospital in another state?
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:17 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
I know that when I was pregnant, I would have wanted my body to be used as a "hatchery" if need be. I certainly wouldn't have had any objection. Were the baby viable, I wouldn't want someone else deciding I couldn't be a "hatchery" because it cost to much, or was macabre.
Perhaps, but I would want that decision made by my POAforHealthcare and/or the legal guardian of the baby-to-be, which would be my husband on both counts, not the hospital.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:23 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is online now
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Perhaps, but I would want that decision made by my POAforHealthcare and/or the legal guardian of the baby-to-be, which would be my husband on both counts, not the hospital.
Right, and if I am understanding bump correctly, the law is doing half of that: it's stopping the hospital from making the decision for the patient. It is not, however, going all the way to letting the family make the decision instead.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:43 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
Right, and if I am understanding bump correctly, the law is doing half of that: it's stopping the hospital from making the decision for the patient. It is not, however, going all the way to letting the family make the decision instead.
And that's exactly why we're here in the Pit, isn't it? The Texas legislature, whether through incompetence or malice, has created a law which has resulted in a yucky situation all around. So I don't get what bump thinks we're (I'm, the hospital is) misreading. They law says they can't take her off life support, even if she, prior to the event and her next-of-kin and the fetus's legal parent to be (once it's born) and biological father have made it abundantly clear that they want her taken off life support. That's a stupid, Pittable law.

If they meant, "final trimester, about to be born, probably perfectly healthy and just needs a few more days to finish cooking," then they should have written it that way. But since they wrote nothing about the fetus at all, they're the ones who made this about pregnant women, not about very-soon-to-be-babies.

Has Texas had a particular problem with hospitals yanking nearly term dead women off life support against the will of their families?
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:49 AM
bump bump is online now
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http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local...fe-support.ece

DMN article about how legal experts think the hospital is misreading the law. The misinterpretation comes in that under Texas law, she's legally considered dead apparently.


And FWIW, this is exceedingly uncommon; something like 30 cases in 30 years out of all the millions of pregnancies and brain-deaths out there. It's not surprising that a law wouldn't be finely tuned to account for something so ridiculously uncommon, regardless of whether Republicans, Democrats, Know-Nothings, Whigs, Labour, Conservatives, Social Democrats or whoever wrote it.

Last edited by bump; 01-04-2014 at 10:53 AM..
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:56 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Originally Posted by bump View Post
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local...fe-support.ece

DMN article about how legal experts think the hospital is misreading the law. And FWIW, this is exceedingly uncommon; something like 30 cases in 30 years out of all the millions of pregnancies and brain-deaths out there. It's not surprising that a law wouldn't be finely tuned to account for something so ridiculously uncommon.
Ah, so it seems the reason they think the hospital is "misreading" the law is that the woman is dead, not terminally ill or irreversibly ill. Fair enough, and I agree.

Quote:
But three experts interviewed by The Associated Press, including two who helped draft the law, said a brain-dead patient’s case wouldn’t be covered by the law.

“This patient is neither terminally nor irreversibly ill,” said Dr. Robert Fine, clinical director of the office of clinical ethics and palliative care for Baylor Health Care System. “Under Texas law, this patient is legally dead.”
I would go a step further and say that this law shouldn't exist to prohibit the withdrawal of life support in a living but terminally ill patient if the patient and family want it, but that's not what's going to be tested by this case, should it go to court.
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:27 AM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is online now
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Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
I think what he's saying is that the law normally allows the hospital to discontinue "futile" treatments against the wishes of the family/medical directives/whatever. However, the law was written to say that if a woman is, say, 34 weeks pregnant and in a car wreck and brain dead, the hospital can't discontinue support even though attempts to save the mother's life are futile.

I know that when I was pregnant, I would have wanted my body to be used as a "hatchery" if need be. I certainly wouldn't have had any objection. Were the baby viable, I wouldn't want someone else deciding I couldn't be a "hatchery" because it cost to much, or was macabre.
On the other hand, someone else might make a different decision - that should they become brain dead, and the health of the fetus was questionable, they'd want to be pulled from life support.

I'd want the choice - and if I'm not in a position to make it, I'd want my husband to be making the choice whether to keep my body alive for the sake of the baby or to let me and the baby go. Not the hospital telling my husband that they HAVE to pull support because I'm brain dead or that they WON'T pull support because there is some chance of a viable (or even not viable) baby.

Its that funky word "may" in there - along with the "under this subchapter" clause. May is an ambiguous word. Does it mean that "A person MUST not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient." Or does it mean that the hospital and doctors don't get to make that choice, but if the family does, the hospital is clear to remove life support just not using this subchapter as support.
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Old 01-04-2014, 01:19 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Little Nemo - you really think that a woman who explicitly declared that she didn't want to be kept alive by artificial means would want her brainless body to be used as hatchery (while she is kept alive by artificial means)? Can people not be allowed to make their own decisions about their bodies and lives without the Government and the self-righteous trying to exert control.
I think it's something that can't be dismissed as impossible. Many women do seek to become pregnant with the intent of producing a child. These women are quite happy to be hatcheries. How do we know this isn't the case here? I see no reason to assume Munoz was not planning to carry her pregnancy through to birth.

If somebody can show clear evidence that Munoz was planning on having an abortion then I'd agree she had made a decision about her pregnancy. But absent such evidence, then deciding to end Munoz's pregnancy is just as much somebody else making a decision about her body as continuing her pregnancy is.
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Old 01-04-2014, 01:37 PM
doreen doreen is offline
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Its that funky word "may" in there - along with the "under this subchapter" clause. May is an ambiguous word. Does it mean that "A person MUST not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient." Or does it mean that the hospital and doctors don't get to make that choice, but if the family does, the hospital is clear to remove life support just not using this subchapter as support.
IANAL, but usually that clause about "... not under this subchapter" means that whatever law would apply in the absence of that subchapter still applies so the hospital and doctors can't remove the remove life support over the family's objections but this law in itself doesn't determine who makes the choice.

Last edited by doreen; 01-04-2014 at 01:40 PM..
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Old 01-04-2014, 02:15 PM
Manda JO Manda JO is online now
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And that's exactly why we're here in the Pit, isn't it? The Texas legislature, whether through incompetence or malice, has created a law which has resulted in a yucky situation all around. So I don't get what bump thinks we're (I'm, the hospital is) misreading. They law says they can't take her off life support, even if she, prior to the event and her next-of-kin and the fetus's legal parent to be (once it's born) and biological father have made it abundantly clear that they want her taken off life support. That's a stupid, Pittable law.

If they meant, "final trimester, about to be born, probably perfectly healthy and just needs a few more days to finish cooking," then they should have written it that way. But since they wrote nothing about the fetus at all, they're the ones who made this about pregnant women, not about very-soon-to-be-babies.

Has Texas had a particular problem with hospitals yanking nearly term dead women off life support against the will of their families?
And I think bump's whole point was that this seemed to be a case of incompetence, not malice, and while that's certainly pittable, it's not part of the ongoing state-level assault on women's reproductive freedoms. If that's true, it's a silver lining. And I really don't want to go around lumping this in with things like mandatory ultrasounds if it wasn't that sort of thing; I don't want to weaken an argument with an irrelevant example.

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On the other hand, someone else might make a different decision - that should they become brain dead, and the health of the fetus was questionable, they'd want to be pulled from life support.

I'd want the choice - and if I'm not in a position to make it, I'd want my husband to be making the choice whether to keep my body alive for the sake of the baby or to let me and the baby go. Not the hospital telling my husband that they HAVE to pull support because I'm brain dead or that they WON'T pull support because there is some chance of a viable (or even not viable) baby.
Absolutely, I'd want the choice, and I think women should have the choice. I just would feel better about the whole thing if this sentence in the law was because someone said "Hey, wait, the hospital shouldn't be allowed to pull the plug on a woman if she's pregnant, even if she's dead" rather than "Those hussies think that just cuz they are dead we won't punish their slutty ways? Haha! Make sure there is a law that no dead sluts can go off life support until the wages of sin have finished making the sins of their life manifest!"

Last edited by Manda JO; 01-04-2014 at 02:16 PM..
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Old 01-04-2014, 06:01 PM
Leonard Leonard is offline
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IANAL, but usually that clause about "... not under this subchapter" means that whatever law would apply in the absence of that subchapter still applies so the hospital and doctors can't remove the remove life support over the family's objections but this law in itself doesn't determine who makes the choice.
It seems pretty clear to me that that is exactly what the sentence means. I'm not sure why people seem to have such a need to be outraged over something. Some kind of mental illness I guess.
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Old 01-04-2014, 06:37 PM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is online now
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I think it's something that can't be dismissed as impossible. Many women do seek to become pregnant with the intent of producing a child. These women are quite happy to be hatcheries. How do we know this isn't the case here? I see no reason to assume Munoz was not planning to carry her pregnancy through to birth.

If somebody can show clear evidence that Munoz was planning on having an abortion then I'd agree she had made a decision about her pregnancy. But absent such evidence, then deciding to end Munoz's pregnancy is just as much somebody else making a decision about her body as continuing her pregnancy is.
So you would rather the state (and State) make the decision but not her next of kin, not her husband?

I simply cannot conceive how anyone would want the default in such situations to be that the state decides (absent a reasonable suspicion of malice on the part of the substitute decision maker or whatever the term is in Texas and the US). Does Texas not subscribe to the concept that when a person is incapacitated, others* (not necessarily declared in advance) may decide for him/her?

(*in Ontario, this is called Power of Attorney for Personal Care. POAs can be designated in advance or, more commonly, spouses, children, etc (there is a hierarchy) can make decisions for personal care, including health and medical, for their spouse, parent, etc. even in the absence of an official prior designation. To my mind this is infinitely better than having the government step in and decide for you.)
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Old 01-04-2014, 06:53 PM
Great Antibob Great Antibob is offline
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Does Texas not subscribe to the concept that when a person is incapacitated, others* (not necessarily declared in advance) may decide for him/her?
By and large, yes. But, as this case demonstrates, Texas suffers a bit of cognitive dissonance when anything that has the slightest whiff of abortion is involved.

Some of the more conservative Texans are of the belief that even the slightest move to legitimize abortion of any sort (even in this case) is anathema. I can't say for certain in absolute fact, but I'm personally sure that many conservative Texans agree with keeping the woman on life support even if (and for some, especially if) the fetus will be developmentally compromised.

On the other hand, they also don't believe in much of the way of state support after such a child is born. So, screw them and their beliefs.
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:00 PM
Eonwe Eonwe is online now
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Typical. Fucking conservatives always worried about their "precious snowflake" fetuses, each and every one the most important god damned thing in the universe. Back in the good ol' days when the world was more sane and librul-like, we left our fetuses to fend for themselves, and they learned how to be men, instead of developing into mamby-pamby "wah, nanny government save me from my brain-dead mother" crybabies.

Of course, once it's born, and it needs state assistance, well, then fuck that baby and it's use of the socialist medical system.

IOW, I'm appalled that this is even an issue; that a brain dead (read: dead) person could fall under any law that requires the state to keep her alive because she carries a pwecious wittle baby.

(sorry, I'm feeling pissy tonight)
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  #28  
Old 01-04-2014, 11:03 PM
curlcoat curlcoat is offline
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Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
I know that when I was pregnant, I would have wanted my body to be used as a "hatchery" if need be. I certainly wouldn't have had any objection. Were the baby viable, I wouldn't want someone else deciding I couldn't be a "hatchery" because it cost to much, or was macabre.
What would include "someone else"? If your husband/SO were in this situation and he didn't want you to end up as a hatchery, would you respect his wishes? Especially if he were to be stuck with six months of hospital life support bills?
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  #29  
Old 01-04-2014, 11:31 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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So you would rather the state (and State) make the decision but not her next of kin, not her husband?

I simply cannot conceive how anyone would want the default in such situations to be that the state decides (absent a reasonable suspicion of malice on the part of the substitute decision maker or whatever the term is in Texas and the US). Does Texas not subscribe to the concept that when a person is incapacitated, others* (not necessarily declared in advance) may decide for him/her?

(*in Ontario, this is called Power of Attorney for Personal Care. POAs can be designated in advance or, more commonly, spouses, children, etc (there is a hierarchy) can make decisions for personal care, including health and medical, for their spouse, parent, etc. even in the absence of an official prior designation. To my mind this is infinitely better than having the government step in and decide for you.)
The state is not making the decision. And it is not allowing Erick Muniz to make the decision. The state is saying that it is not yet the time for this decision to be made.

Suppose Marlise Munoz was not in a permanent coma. Suppose rather that she was in a coma but doctors could tell that it was a temporary condition and she would wake up and make a full recovery in about a year.

In those circumstances would you allow Marlise Munoz's family to decide that a year is a long time and they really don't want to deal with it so they'd rather pull the plug on her and let her die now rather than wait a year for her recovery? I think it's obvious nobody would be arguing that her husband or parents have the authority to make that kind of decision for her just because she's in a coma.

The only time the family is asked to make the decision about withdrawing life support is when the condition is hopeless. Prior to that, neither the family nor the state can pull the plug.

Now here's another hypothetical scenario. Suppose Marlise Muniz was in a temporary coma that was only going to last a few weeks. And her husband Erick wants her to receive full medical care so she wakes up and recovers.

But when the doctors discover Marlise is pregnant (something nobody had known) Erick decides he doesn't want to have another kid. So he tells the doctors he wants them to perform an abortion on Marlise while she's in a coma. His justification is she's in a coma and he's making the medical decisions on her behalf so he can authorize the abortion just as she could if she were conscious.

Again, I don't think may people are going to argue that a family member's authority extends to making decisions like that.

So what the state appears to be saying in this case is that nobody is in a position to make the decision to end Marlise Muniz's pregnancy. Marlise Muniz is the only person who could make the decision to end her pregnancy and she is in a coma. So absent her consent, the state will allow the pregnancy to continue to its completion. Then when the baby is born, the family can decide if Marlize Muniz's life support should be continued. And if it turns out the baby's condition is hopeless and it also cannot live without life support, the family can decide for the baby as well.
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  #30  
Old 01-05-2014, 05:26 AM
Steophan Steophan is offline
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She's not in a coma, she's brain dead - that is, dead. They are not the same thing.
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  #31  
Old 01-05-2014, 06:57 AM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is online now
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The state is saying that it is not yet the time for this decision to be made.
Which, of course, is a decision.

And, what Steophan said.
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  #32  
Old 01-05-2014, 07:29 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is online now
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Originally Posted by curlcoat View Post
What would include "someone else"? If your husband/SO were in this situation and he didn't want you to end up as a hatchery, would you respect his wishes? Especially if he were to be stuck with six months of hospital life support bills?
Of course my husband would be making that decision, and I would expect him to take into account my wishes.

In terms of cost, who cares? At this point, it's the difference between several million you can never pay and tens of millions you can never pay.
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  #33  
Old 01-05-2014, 07:44 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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The state is not making the decision. And it is not allowing Erick Muniz to make the decision. The state is saying that it is not yet the time for this decision to be made.

Suppose Marlise Munoz was not in a permanent coma. Suppose rather that she was in a coma but doctors could tell that it was a temporary condition and she would wake up and make a full recovery in about a year.

In those circumstances would you allow Marlise Munoz's family to decide that a year is a long time and they really don't want to deal with it so they'd rather pull the plug on her and let her die now rather than wait a year for her recovery? I think it's obvious nobody would be arguing that her husband or parents have the authority to make that kind of decision for her just because she's in a coma.

The only time the family is asked to make the decision about withdrawing life support is when the condition is hopeless. Prior to that, neither the family nor the state can pull the plug.

Now here's another hypothetical scenario. Suppose Marlise Muniz was in a temporary coma that was only going to last a few weeks. And her husband Erick wants her to receive full medical care so she wakes up and recovers.

But when the doctors discover Marlise is pregnant (something nobody had known) Erick decides he doesn't want to have another kid. So he tells the doctors he wants them to perform an abortion on Marlise while she's in a coma. His justification is she's in a coma and he's making the medical decisions on her behalf so he can authorize the abortion just as she could if she were conscious.

Again, I don't think may people are going to argue that a family member's authority extends to making decisions like that.

So what the state appears to be saying in this case is that nobody is in a position to make the decision to end Marlise Muniz's pregnancy. Marlise Muniz is the only person who could make the decision to end her pregnancy and she is in a coma. So absent her consent, the state will allow the pregnancy to continue to its completion. Then when the baby is born, the family can decide if Marlize Muniz's life support should be continued. And if it turns out the baby's condition is hopeless and it also cannot live without life support, the family can decide for the baby as well.
You've fallen into a very common trap here, which is interpreting "Power of Attorney for Healthcare" or "Healthcare Decision Maker" as "Person who makes the medical decisions for a person." That's NOT what it is, legally. A POAfH is legally bound to authorize or decline the tests and treatments that, to the best of their knowledge, the patient would have authorized or declined were they able to understand and communicate.

In either of your hypotheticals (which bear little to no resemblance to the issues of the OP), I as an ethical nurse with a strong advocacy for patient autonomy would sit the husband down and explain that, first. Then I'd like to hear what the husband has to say. Did he have a conversation with his wife where she admitted she wasn't certain she wanted to continue this pregnancy, and that if their lives got more difficult in some way, she'd seek an abortion? Was she on her way to a doctor to discuss abortion options when her accident happened? Does he have any reason to believe that she would request an abortion now, if she were suddenly able to open her eyes and ask for one?

At that point, he'd probably admit that no, he wasn't thinking about what she would want, but he was scared and overwhelmed and then we'd talk more about that and his feelings. I'd probably ask the hospital's medical social worker to stop by and discuss these issues with him more in depth, and find him community and social service support to deal with his grief, with financial issues, with housing arrangements and the other things he needs to help him through this very difficult time.

If he said yes, his wife would want an abortion and he had no doubts about that, then I would page the hospital ethicist for a consultation. If the husband had me convinced that he was advocating for his wife and her wishes, then I'd do everything I can to support him and advocate for her getting an abortion, as well.

No one, husband or not, should be able to request an abortion for someone else because he wants one. But if he's requesting it because he knows she wants one, that's a different situation.
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  #34  
Old 01-05-2014, 08:12 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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While ordinarily I'd be totally on the side of "let the person affected decide" in regards to continuing life support, once you're brain dead you are dead. We can cut you up for organ donation or use your corpse for research purposes and so forth. When you're dead you lose the rights you enjoyed as someone alive.

Normally, I'd prefer to abide by the wishes of the deceased in regards to her body, but not when doing so could harm others. If disconnecting her body's life support machinery would kill a viable fetus then sorry, the body remains hooked up until the baby can be delivered.

So it comes down to what is the condition of the baby? And it looks like we can't know that, certainly not we sitting here without all the full details.
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  #35  
Old 01-05-2014, 10:16 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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You've fallen into a very common trap here, which is interpreting "Power of Attorney for Healthcare" or "Healthcare Decision Maker" as "Person who makes the medical decisions for a person." That's NOT what it is, legally. A POAfH is legally bound to authorize or decline the tests and treatments that, to the best of their knowledge, the patient would have authorized or declined were they able to understand and communicate.

In either of your hypotheticals (which bear little to no resemblance to the issues of the OP), I as an ethical nurse with a strong advocacy for patient autonomy would sit the husband down and explain that, first. Then I'd like to hear what the husband has to say. Did he have a conversation with his wife where she admitted she wasn't certain she wanted to continue this pregnancy, and that if their lives got more difficult in some way, she'd seek an abortion? Was she on her way to a doctor to discuss abortion options when her accident happened? Does he have any reason to believe that she would request an abortion now, if she were suddenly able to open her eyes and ask for one?

At that point, he'd probably admit that no, he wasn't thinking about what she would want, but he was scared and overwhelmed and then we'd talk more about that and his feelings. I'd probably ask the hospital's medical social worker to stop by and discuss these issues with him more in depth, and find him community and social service support to deal with his grief, with financial issues, with housing arrangements and the other things he needs to help him through this very difficult time.

If he said yes, his wife would want an abortion and he had no doubts about that, then I would page the hospital ethicist for a consultation. If the husband had me convinced that he was advocating for his wife and her wishes, then I'd do everything I can to support him and advocate for her getting an abortion, as well.

No one, husband or not, should be able to request an abortion for someone else because he wants one. But if he's requesting it because he knows she wants one, that's a different situation.
I think we're in general agreement. You'll note that while I discussed some hypothetical scenarios, I then commented that they wouldn't occur due to issues like you've raised.

I think we're also in agreement that the decision to end a pregnancy is the sole prerogative of the pregnant woman. It's not a decision that can be delegated to a family member or the government.
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  #36  
Old 01-05-2014, 12:05 PM
Steophan Steophan is offline
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I think we're also in agreement that the decision to end a pregnancy is the sole prerogative of the pregnant woman. It's not a decision that can be delegated to a family member or the government.
Not if the woman is incapable of making that decision, for reasons not limited to but including being dead. Another example would be when the woman is in a coma, and can't be woken, and there is a choice between the life of the mother or the child.

In either case, the decision must be made by someone else - or else, no decision is taken and both die - and the state needs to be involved in some way, if only to say who makes that decision.
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  #37  
Old 01-05-2014, 12:45 PM
doreen doreen is offline
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Not if the woman is incapable of making that decision, for reasons not limited to but including being dead. Another example would be when the woman is in a coma, and can't be woken, and there is a choice between the life of the mother or the child.
You missed the distinction mentioned earlier. Assuming that we talking about a coma and not brain death, the "decision maker" should really be called the "decision communicator". Because what he or she is supposed to do is communicate the decision the patient would have made to the medical staff when the patient cannot do so. Not the decision he or she would make, which may be different. It's not always possible for a third party to tell the difference, but sometimes it is.
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  #38  
Old 01-05-2014, 01:35 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Not if the woman is incapable of making that decision, for reasons not limited to but including being dead.
I disagree. I believe the pregnant woman is the only person who can decide to end her pregnancy. If she is unable to make that decision, then nobody can make it.
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  #39  
Old 01-05-2014, 02:08 PM
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I disagree. I believe the pregnant woman is the only person who can decide to end her pregnancy. If she is unable to make that decision, then nobody can make it.
Why is this situation different from any other medical situation where someone else has to make the decision? You would prefer a woman and foetus to die rather than an abortion be performed, if that would save her life?
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  #40  
Old 01-05-2014, 02:19 PM
EverwonderWhy EverwonderWhy is offline
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While ordinarily I'd be totally on the side of "let the person affected decide" in regards to continuing life support, once you're brain dead you are dead. We can cut you up for organ donation or use your corpse for research purposes and so forth. When you're dead you lose the rights you enjoyed as someone alive.
Except of course, that no one's corpse can be used for organ donation or for research purposes without prior consent from the deceased or explicit consent from their next of kin.

IIRC, weren't you adamantly against presumed or opt-out organ donation anyway?

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Normally, I'd prefer to abide by the wishes of the deceased in regards to her body, but not when doing so could harm others. If disconnecting her body's life support machinery would kill a viable fetus then sorry, the body remains hooked up until the baby can be delivered.
Except the fetus is not viable. The woman was pronounced brain dead when the fetus was 14 weeks. If the fetus was viable they would have immediately delivered it. Instead, the state of Texas is overriding the wishes of the woman's next of kin (who are authorized to represent her wishes) and reducing the woman to an involuntary biological incubator until the fetus is viable.

We don't donate peoples bodies or organs against the wishes of the deceased or their next of kin. And thousands of already born people die everyday because of this. If the state can't mandate organ donation how they can mandate gestation by a dead person's body?

At least in organ donation, the next of kin isn't on the hook for medical bills incurred due to the states appropriation of the woman's body. Not to mention the mental anguish imposed on the family by prolonging this women's death/funeral or that the family is now forced to assume responsibility for a potentially profoundly disabled child.

I agree with Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, that "The Texas law in this case "imposes the view of the state on the adult pregnant woman, as to whether or not the fetus counts as a human being."
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  #41  
Old 01-05-2014, 02:30 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is online now
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At least no one on this thread so far is trying to "speak for the fetus." That's encouraging.
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  #42  
Old 01-05-2014, 02:35 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Except of course, that no one's corpse can be used for organ donation or for research purposes without prior consent from the deceased or explicit consent from their next of kin.
Actually, even if the deceased actively desired to be an organ donor or used in research while still alive at least in the US the next of kin can veto that once they're dead.

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IIRC, weren't you adamantly against presumed or opt-out organ donation anyway?
Yes. However, if a pregnant woman is brain dead the fetus is already hooked into her systems and organs. It's not a matter of giving, it's a matter of taking away, of deliberately causing a death. I'm opposed to killing without an extremely good reason.

We wouldn't be talking about maintain the woman's body indefinitely, only until the fetus/baby no longer needs it. After that, after following the woman's prior desires can't kill someone else, we can go back to what the woman wanted while still alive.

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Except the fetus is not viable. The woman was pronounced brain dead when the fetus was 14 weeks. If the fetus was viable they would have immediately delivered it. Instead, the state of Texas is overriding the wishes of the woman's next of kin (who are authorized to represent her wishes) and reducing the woman to an involuntary biological incubator until the fetus is viable.
Re-read the statements by her husband. He is presuming the fetus is just as brain-damaged as his wife. The doctors seems to think that might not be the case. IF it was known that the child was brain dead or severely damaged that would be one thing, if we KNEW it as a hard fact it would revert to whether or not life support should be continued for an infant that was brain dead or unlikely to survive. We don't actually know that. If we KNEW for a fact the baby was healthy and neurologically normal I'd say the baby's life takes precedence over a dead woman's wishes not to be on life support.

We don't know either of those two states to be true. In an ambiguous case I'd prefer to err on the side of life. It will be another 12-14 weeks minimum before the baby could be viable outside the womb, and if healthy at that point and we could still maintain the mother's body it would be in the interest of the child to continue the pregnancy as long as possible.

The only time I'd say cut the power right now if it could be established that the mother absolutely intended to the abort but apparently that was not the case here.

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If the state can't mandate organ donation how they can mandate gestation by a dead person's body?
Because the dead person is already functioning as life support for someone else. It withdrawing something already there instead of attempting to replace something. Maybe that makes no difference to you but to me it's a significant distinction.

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At least in organ donation, the next of kin isn't on the hook for medical bills incurred due to the states appropriation of the woman's body. Not to mention the mental anguish imposed on the family by prolonging this women's death/funeral or that the family is now forced to assume responsibility for a potentially profoundly disabled child.
Since the woman is legally dead I don't think the family can be held liable for her debts.... including medical care. I suspect the state or the hospital is already paying for this.

And nobody knows if the child will be disabled or not. Nobody. It's all assumptions. Unless the doctors have some key evidence but if they're ethical they'll never share the information with the media, so we'll never know.

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I agree with Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, that "The Texas law in this case "imposes the view of the state on the adult pregnant woman, as to whether or not the fetus counts as a human being."
She is no longer "an adult pregnant woman". She's a warm corpse that hasn't gone gamey yet. Again, I find the distinction significant.
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  #43  
Old 01-05-2014, 04:41 PM
EverwonderWhy EverwonderWhy is offline
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Actually, even if the deceased actively desired to be an organ donor or used in research while still alive at least in the US the next of kin can veto that once they're dead.
Actually, you made the same erroneous declaration in the other thread and were soundly proven wrong there too. You really should quit repeating it.

"When Is An Organ Donor Not An Organ Donor"

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In the United States, the Uniform Anatomic Gift Act (UAGA) provides the legal framework for the process of organ donation. This statute grants any mentally competent individual at least 18 years of age the right to designate whether or not he wishes to donate his organs for transplantation after death. When the decedent has expressed such a desire, this wish is to be honored over any familial objections. By 1973, all 50 states had adopted, with only slight variations, some form of the UAGA. A properly signed declaration (such as the back of a driver's license or an organ donor card) is a legal document under the UAGA and is effective to authorize donation in every state. Moreover, the relevant laws specify that consent of the donor's relatives is not needed in such circumstances-the relatives do not have legal authority to undo the donor's wishes.
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Yes. However, if a pregnant woman is brain dead the fetus is already hooked into her systems and organs. It's not a matter of giving, it's a matter of taking away, of deliberately causing a death. I'm opposed to killing without an extremely good reason.We wouldn't be talking about maintain the woman's body indefinitely, only until the fetus/baby no longer needs it. After that, after following the woman's prior desires can't kill someone else, we can go back to what the woman wanted while still alive.
You seem to be forgetting that a fetus is NOT legally a person and that abortion is not a 'killing' or 'deliberate cause of death' of 'someone else' , but a termination of a pregnancy.

More pointedly, conflating the removal from life support of the pregnant women with abortion is not accurate. The intent to remove Munoz from life support is not the same as the intent to terminate a pregnancy - though the outcome for the fetus (which is NOT a legal person) may be the same. Furthermore, the 'allowing Munoz to be removed from life-support only if she intended to abort' argument isn't logical or compelling, as it can be safely assumed that Munoz's intent in carrying her pregnancy to term was not surrogacy, but a parenthood. There is no such opportunity for that relationship now that she is deceased (outside of the purely biological). Of course the most qualified person to speak on her behalf is her husband - who the state is overriding.

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She is no longer "an adult pregnant woman". She's a warm corpse that hasn't gone gamey yet. Again, I find the distinction significant.
Again, 'warm corpses' still have the right to refuse to donate their body/organs/tissues.

And yes, her warm corpse is still the body of an adult pregnant woman who happens to be brain dead and her wishes should be as legally binding as any other 'warm corpse' or decedent.

Last edited by EverwonderWhy; 01-05-2014 at 04:45 PM..
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  #44  
Old 01-05-2014, 04:55 PM
EverwonderWhy EverwonderWhy is offline
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duplicate post

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  #45  
Old 01-05-2014, 05:30 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Why is this situation different from any other medical situation where someone else has to make the decision? You would prefer a woman and foetus to die rather than an abortion be performed, if that would save her life?
In this thread, we're talking about a different situation. One where the decision is whether to allow the woman and the foetus to both die now or delay the woman dying in order for the foetus to be born.

Can you show who is harmed by waiting in this case? By common consensus, the woman is irreversibly brain dead and is beyond any further harm. How is delaying the death of her body going to inconvenience her?
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  #46  
Old 01-05-2014, 05:37 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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You seem to be forgetting that a fetus is NOT legally a person and that abortion is not a 'killing' or 'deliberate cause of death' of 'someone else' , but a termination of a pregnancy.
And you're ignoring the central tenet of the pro-choice position: the decision to terminate a pregnancy is solely the pregnant woman's to make. It doesn't matter if you're arguing that the government wants to terminate the pregnancy or the husband wants to terminate the pregnancy or the grandparents want to terminate the pregnancy - the basic principle is the same: nobody but the woman can make that decision.
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  #47  
Old 01-05-2014, 06:26 PM
EverwonderWhy EverwonderWhy is offline
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And you're ignoring the central tenet of the pro-choice position: the decision to terminate a pregnancy is solely the pregnant woman's to make. It doesn't matter if you're arguing that the government wants to terminate the pregnancy or the husband wants to terminate the pregnancy or the grandparents want to terminate the pregnancy - the basic principle is the same: nobody but the woman can make that decision.
No, you are stubbornly conflating the removal from life support with abortion. There is no scheduled D&C, no separate medical procedure being performed on the woman in order to terminate her pregnancy -- just removal from life support as she would wish. There is no intent to terminate a pregnancy. The intent is to discontinue extraordinary measures via artificial and mechanical support to a brain dead woman who happens to be pregnant and let her pass on naturally. For all you know the Munoz's could be fervently pro-life and don't consider withdrawing life support equivalent to abortion (because, it is after all, not even the same procedure).

And while I won't speak for the whole pro-choice tent here, my belief centers around body autonomy. If Munoz wished to not to have her body on life support and the person most qualified and legally authorized to represent her wishes in this tragic and unique circumstance conveys that - then her wishes should be as legally binding as any other person. Any person has the right be removed from life support, except pregnant women . Despite their wishes or advanced directives? How does that not turn pregnant women into second class citizens and deny their body autonomy?
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  #48  
Old 01-05-2014, 06:42 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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You seem to be forgetting that a fetus is NOT legally a person and that abortion is not a 'killing' or 'deliberate cause of death' of 'someone else' , but a termination of a pregnancy.
Anyone who fails to acknowledge that between conception and birth there is an ethical grey area is an idiot. The "right" to an abortion is not absolute. Nor is the status of a fetus being a "non-person". As a general rule (because I don't want to go into every specific variation of law) past a certain point abortion simply isn't legal. Injuring a pregnant woman to the point of miscarriage has long carried penalties above and beyond that of assaulting a non-pregnant person, at least in some jurisdictions.

To a woman who wants a child a miscarriage is more upsetting than a menstrual period, and miscarriages can cause as much grief to would-have-been parents as the death of a infant just after birth. And, yes, sometimes an abortion is an enormous relief for a woman who does not want a child at that point. You can't issue blanket statements about something so variable.

Yes, abortion IS killing. It's not killing a legally defined human person but it most certainly is killing something alive. Pretending it's not causing death to something is ludicrous. The question is whether it's murder - that is, killing a living, legal human being - or of no more consequence than killing a mouse or something. The truth is that the legal dividing lines are fuzzy, and always will be absent a standard of "life begins at conception".

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More pointedly, conflating the removal from life support of the pregnant women with abortion is not accurate.
Does removing life support from the mother's body cause the death of the fetus? Yes? Then it's the moral equivalent of abortion. Both actions result in a dead fetus.

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Furthermore, the 'allowing Munoz to be removed from life-support only if she intended to abort' argument isn't logical or compelling, as it can be safely assumed that Munoz's intent in carrying her pregnancy to term was not surrogacy, but a parenthood. There is no such opportunity for that relationship now that she is deceased (outside of the purely biological).
So... you're saying that a woman who suddenly realizes she won't live long past the birth of her child would want to kill the fetus? Why do you think that? Of course she wanted to be a parent, but it's not unheard of for parents facing terminal illness when their children are still infants to nonetheless want their spouse to carry on as a parent.

That doesn't square with the women who are willing to risk their lives to complete a pregnancy, or forgo cancer treatment long enough to birth a child even though it puts their own lives at greater risk, or women who, facing death and without a spouse, make arrangements for the custody and care of their children after their gone.

Thus, I reject your argument that, if we could communicate somehow with this dead woman, she would automatically argue to kill the fetus by taking her body off life support.

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Of course the most qualified person to speak on her behalf is her husband - who the state is overriding.
Again, I am not convinced the wishes of the dead woman should automatically override the interests of her fetus. I think this is a grey area that needs to be considered on an individual basis and not subjected to cookie-cutter rules.

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Again, 'warm corpses' still have the right to refuse to donate their body/organs/tissues.
Warm corpses do not have opinions or rights. If a person wants to dictate what happens to their corpse they need to speak up while still alive and able to communicate. If they fail to make their wishes explicit there is a risk of this sort of thing occurring.

In other words, when making out medical directives or living wills women of childbearing age need to consider how pregnancy could affect their wishes regarding their remains.

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And yes, her warm corpse is still the body of an adult pregnant woman who happens to be brain dead and her wishes should be as legally binding as any other 'warm corpse' or decedent.
What is the proof we have of her wishes? There's a reason why it's a good idea to put your wishes in writing, otherwise it devolves into hearsay and rumor and what other people want or think you want or hope you want.

Beyond that, if your wishes regarding the disposition of your corpse could harm or kill the living then I say tough crap, you don't get your wish honored. This would probably be less muddy if she were, say, 30 weeks along instead of 14 and the fetus much closer to clear and full legal status as a person.

Maybe it's just my hesitation to get the state involved in killing people or even potential people. The 20th Century had all manner of horrific abuses done by governments in the name of eliminating life deemed unworthy of life, including slides down slippery slopes, and I do not want that to happen again. I am opposed to capital punishment as well. As I said, I'd rather err on the side of life, it makes it less likely to categorize significant numbers of people as disposable.
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:46 PM
curlcoat curlcoat is offline
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Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
Of course my husband would be making that decision, and I would expect him to take into account my wishes.

In terms of cost, who cares? At this point, it's the difference between several million you can never pay and tens of millions you can never pay.
What several million you can never pay? If she was disconnected from life support as soon as her husband was able to let her wishes be known, there would be no several million dollar hospital, etc bill. Your cavalier dismissal of those bills is pretty chilling too, given that just because the husband can't pay them doesn't mean they just go away.

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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I disagree. I believe the pregnant woman is the only person who can decide to end her pregnancy. If she is unable to make that decision, then nobody can make it.
In this case, we aren't talking about a pregnant woman, we are talking about a dead body.

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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
In this thread, we're talking about a different situation. One where the decision is whether to allow the woman and the foetus to both die now or delay the woman dying in order for the foetus to be born.
The woman is already dead, no way around that. The fetus may already be dead, may die soon, may die shortly after birth or may be born severely retarded. Or, there is a VERY slight chance it will be born normal.

Quote:
Can you show who is harmed by waiting in this case? By common consensus, the woman is irreversibly brain dead and is beyond any further harm. How is delaying the death of her body going to inconvenience her?
She isn't the one who is going to be affected here. Beginning with her husband, who cannot have closure on this and whose memories of his wife are now of her corpse being kept alive. Then there is any other relatives who will suffer the same way. Then there are all the bills this would run up - it will either bankrupt the husband or the state/fed/some crazy anti-abortion group will end up having to pay them. And finally, there is that fetus you are so worried about - there is extremely little chance it's going to be born without severe damage, so now you have a man who had to live with his wife's corpse being kept on support until this baby could be born, and he ends up with not only a reminder of that horrible time, but quite likely also one that will need a lot of expensive care. Wonder if he could possible love such a child?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
And you're ignoring the central tenet of the pro-choice position: the decision to terminate a pregnancy is solely the pregnant woman's to make. It doesn't matter if you're arguing that the government wants to terminate the pregnancy or the husband wants to terminate the pregnancy or the grandparents want to terminate the pregnancy - the basic principle is the same: nobody but the woman can make that decision.
They aren't terminating the pregnancy, they are disconnecting "life" support.
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  #50  
Old 01-05-2014, 06:54 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by EverwonderWhy View Post
Any person has the right be removed from life support, except pregnant women . Despite their wishes or advanced directives? How does that not turn pregnant women into second class citizens and deny their body autonomy?
Part of the problem here is determining what, exactly, the deceased would have wanted. Again, that's why making these things explicit in writing is important.

MOST married women who are three months and some change along want to have the baby. Many, if not most, pregnant women are willing to run risks to bring their baby to term, and submit to various medical procedures to bring their baby to term. Assumption that a pregnant woman who has not secured an abortion by the second trimester wants the child is reasonable. The default assumption in medicine is that if a woman is pregnant the assumption is she is keeping the baby until she says otherwise, and medical procedures, even on unconscious women, are conducted with that in mind. Absent solid proof otherwise I don't see a problem with that.

Now, if the woman had a living will where it was explicitly written that she did not desire life support post-brain death even if she was pregnant I'd say that there is a much more significant basis for turning her off in this case. We don't have that.

Yes, her husband is next of kin and apparently has the power of attorney in this case. However, the dead woman is not suffering and I for one have no problem with taking a week or two to carefully examine and question what is the best course here. Medical ethicists and maybe a judge can consider the question with access to details you and I will never see, and I have no problem with doing it that way. If the widower wants to terminate parental rights prior to birth the child would then become a ward of the state. I would feel much more comfortable about an ethical review which ends in turning off the machines in a fortnight than simply yanking the plug right now without a second thought.
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