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Thread: Brain-Dead Woman Forced to Stay on Life Support Because She’s Pregnant

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Brain-Dead Woman Forced to Stay on Life Support Because She’s Pregnant

    Brain-Dead Woman Forced to Stay on Life Support Because She’s Pregnant

    Taking a family member off life support is never an easy decision, but it's what Erick Munoz believes his wife, Marlise, who worked as a paramedic, wanted. Marlise collapsed right before Thanksgiving, likely because of a blood clot in her lungs, and was pronounced brain dead from lack of oxygen at the hospital. Her family wants to remove the ventilator keeping her body alive, but there's a hitch. Marlise Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant at the time of her collapse. Texas, where the Munozes live, is one of the 12 states in the country that forbids removing a woman from life support if she is pregnant.



    Marlise Munoz and her husband are just the latest victims caught in the crossfire of abortion politics. Mandating that pregnant women stay on life support regardless of their wishes is a neat and easy way to establish the claim that the state has an interest in fetal life, even at the earliest stages, that overrides a pregnant woman's basic human rights. After all, brain death during pregnancy is incredibly rare, making these laws more symbolic in nature than pragmatic. If your goal is to legally enshrine the notion that pregnant women are incubators first and humans second, keeping their bodies alive to grow babies long after their minds are gone is a perfect way to do it.



    Of course, rare doesn't mean impossible, as Marlise Munoz's family is discovering. "All we want is to let her rest, to let her go to sleep," Munoz's father, Ernest Machado, told the Dallas Morning News. "What they’re doing serves no purpose." The family reasonably fears that the loss of oxygen that was enough to destroy Marlise Munoz's brain probably did serious damage to her fetus.



    To make it worse, by going public with their story, Munoz's family is being treated to a heavy dose of vicious anti-choice rhetoric. Erick Munoz has been the subject of ugly speculation online, with anti-choice commenters eagerly suggesting that he simply wants to "get rid" of his wife. The reality, however, is that by holding Marlise Munoz in this state, her family is not being allowed to lay her to rest and start the grieving process properly. Laws like this need to be overturned.




    Marlise Munoz: Pregnant brain-dead woman forced to stay on life support in Texas.
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    Elite Member faithanne's Avatar
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    How horrible for her family and this is like some "Never Let Me Go" scenario where we're all just basically spare parts - in this case, her womb.
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    Yet if she wanted her 14 week foetus aborted there wouldn't be a problem. There are so many legal, moral and ethical contradictions in these cases.
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    Elite Member southernbelle's Avatar
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    I recently read a book (fiction) that dealt with a very similar scenario: The Promise of Stardust

    It prompted me to have a discussion with my husband about what would happen if we ever found ourselves in this situation, as I've always felt very strongly that I would not want to be kept alive by artificial means.

    Summary:
    Priscille Sibley’s The Promise of Stardust is a haunting and unforgettable debut novel about life and death and love, set against a moral dilemma that may leave you questioning your own beliefs.

    Matt Beaulieu has loved Elle McClure since he was two years old. Now married and expecting their first child, Elle suffers a fatal accident. To keep the baby alive, Matt goes against his wife’s wishes and keeps his wife on life support. But Matt’s mother thinks that Elle should be euthanized, and she’s ready to fight for what she believes is the right thing.

    A stunning, compassionate examination of one of the most intricate ethical issues of our time, The Promise of Stardust, will stay with you, long after the last page has been read.

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    Gold Member manningmsj's Avatar
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    This is disgusting. This poor family. I can't imagine how her husband must feel, losing his wife and the baby they were expecting. To then be forced into a ridiculous political debate that has nothing to do with his experience is even worse. When a woman dies during pregnancy, the baby is naturally assumed to die with her. Just because some completely arbitrary law gives the government the right to be like, "hold up, not so fast..." doesn't make this guy pro-anything. This isn't even abortion, IMHO. They're not terminating her pregnancy. Her dying ended it already, even if the fetus is still present. She is not a pregnant woman anymore. She's a corpse that deserves to be buried.
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Maybe her family can get her transferred out of state and then give the order. That poor family!
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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    14 weeks along? That's just ridiculous. It's not like the fetus is in the ballpark of viable. This is sad and disgusting.
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    That's so fucked up.

    There are plenty of women out there who would be okay with staying hooked up for the good of the fetus, but taking that choice away from her family who knew her and her wishes best is unconscionable.

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    Bloody hell that's just awful... so if she naturally miscarries the baby, then she can automatically be taken off of live support? Hellish.
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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karistiona View Post
    Bloody hell that's just awful... so if she naturally miscarries the baby, then she can automatically be taken off of live support? Hellish.
    Yeah, because then her job as an incubator is done.

    Sad.

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    Elite Member Lobelia's Avatar
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    I'm confused. Re the case of the little girl who was pronounced brain dead but mom wouldn't agree to take her off the ventilator, I read that without brain function, the other organs start to shut down. Can't remember if it was an article or a poster here on GR who said that. There was talk that the little girl was already starting to decompose. If all that is true, then how could any reasonable person expect this fetus to make it to a viable point, whether or not it even should, notwithstanding. I guess what I'm asking is at what point does a person pronounced brain dead start to decompose?
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    It says here that she is 19 weeks now: LifeSiteNews Mobile | Pregnant mom being kept on life support over husband’s objections due to Texas law


    Mon Jan 06, 2014 18:49 ESTPregnant mom being kept on life support over husband’s objections due to Texas law

    BY KIRSTEN ANDERSEN


    HALTOM CITY, TX, January 6, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A North Texas woman and her unborn child are being kept on life support against her husband’s wishes thanks to a 1999 law signed by then-Governor George W. Bush that forbids hospitals from withdrawing extraordinary care from pregnant women before their babies are viable for delivery.
    On Nov. 26, 33-year-old Marlise Munoz, who was 14-weeks pregnant at the time, collapsed at her home after getting out of bed to attend to her 1-year-old son. Her husband Erick, a paramedic, tried to revive her, but was unsuccessful.
    Marlise Munoz

    Doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital determined she was in cardiac arrest. They were able to restart her heart, but she never regained consciousness and remains on a ventilator.
    Because Marlise had never created a living will, Erick assumed it was up to him to decide whether to keep her on the ventilator or not. He claims that he and his wife – also a paramedic – had extensively discussed end-of-life care issues, due to their jobs bringing them into contact with so many families facing unexpected tragedies. He says Marlise would never have wanted a machine keeping her alive.
    However, when Erick asked doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital to remove his wife from life support, he was surprised to learn that because the baby she is carrying is still alive, they are legally prevented from doing so.
    The Texas Advanced Directives Act states that “a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment … from a pregnant patient.” The law applies even if the patient has signed a do-not-resuscitate order as part of a living will.
    According to the law, Marlise must be kept on life support until her baby is developed enough to be viable outside the womb. At that point, the child can be delivered via cesarean section and Erick will be able to remove his wife from life support if that is what he wants.
    But Erick and other family members say they are worried that the baby might have been deprived of oxygen while Marlise’s heart was stopped, or that the drugs the doctors administered while trying to revive her may have damaged the baby in some way.
    “That poor fetus had the same lack of oxygen, the same electric shocks, the same chemicals that got her heart going again,” Marlise’s father, Ernest Machado, told the Dallas News. “For all we know, it’s in the same condition that Marlise is in.”
    Doctors say they can’t tell how the baby’s development might have been affected Malise’s trauma until later in the pregnancy. Currently, Marlise is 19 weeks pregnant and the baby is said to have a normal heartbeat.

    Dr. Paul Byrne, a neonatologist and professor of pediatrics at the University of Toledo toldLifeSiteNews that it is unlikely the baby has been seriously harmed.
    “The amount of oxygen a baby gets is much different than the amount of oxygen we get out here in the environment,” Byrne told LSN. He said the blood supply to the baby is venous blood, which has already had most of the oxygen consumed by the mother’s body anyway. “The baby’s body is used to living with a lower oxygen content. The baby is protected by the uterus more than the mother’s brain is protected, or the liver is protected, or the heart is protected [from lack of oxygen].”
    Byrne also doubted the medications used to revive Marlise posed much of a threat to the baby, since the baby was already 14 weeks developed when she collapsed. “A baby has all of his or her parts by eight weeks after conception,” Byrne told LSN. “And so the susceptibility to medicines that could be toxic – and most of those that are used in resuscitation are not toxic – but even those that are toxic, the greater chance [of harm] is early in pregnancy, that’s when you have to be mostly concerned.”
    Byrne also disagrees with those who argue the Texas law should not apply to Marlise because her alleged lack of brain activity (the family has claimed she is brain dead, but the hospital has not confirmed this, citing patient confidentiality) means she is “legally dead.”
    “This mother has a beating heart, she has circulation, respiration. Her liver works, her kidneys work, her immune mechanisms work as well as any woman who is pregnant … all of these things are perfectly normal, and they would never happen in a cadaver,” Byrne told LSN.
    Byrne said the longest lasting pregnancy he can recall after a woman was “declared” brain dead and put on life support was 103 days. In July, a Hungarian woman gave birth to a healthy infant after three months on life support following a stroke.



    Said Byrne, “This mother is a living mother, and people ought to continue to take care of her. Her baby is a living baby, and that baby can be born.”

    It's scary when the state has so much power, even if it is explicitly against the wishes of the family.

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    Elite Member southernbelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobelia View Post
    I'm confused. Re the case of the little girl who was pronounced brain dead but mom wouldn't agree to take her off the ventilator, I read that without brain function, the other organs start to shut down. Can't remember if it was an article or a poster here on GR who said that. There was talk that the little girl was already starting to decompose. If all that is true, then how could any reasonable person expect this fetus to make it to a viable point, whether or not it even should, notwithstanding. I guess what I'm asking is at what point does a person pronounced brain dead start to decompose?
    My understanding is that if she's truly brain dead, she will start to decompose. If it's just severe brain damage but she still has some function in the brain stem, her body may be able to regulate the most basic functions enough to prevent decomposition until the fetus is viable outside of the womb (at least 21 weeks).

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by southernbelle View Post

    It prompted me to have a discussion with my husband about what would happen if we ever found ourselves in this situation, as I've always felt very strongly that I would not want to be kept alive by artificial means.
    Great. Except the state you reside in doesn't give a fuck about your wishes.
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