Is forced pregnant patients to stay on life support is right or wrong?

by pamelagarneau on February 5, 2014 - 8:42am

I choose an article, written by Manny Fernandez and Erik Eckholm, about Marlise Munoz who is brain-death, 14 weeks pregnant and forced to stay on life support. She was 33 when the doctors diagnosed Marlise Munroz brain-death from a blood clot in her lungs.  Her wish was not to be left on life support and John Peter Smith Hospital at Fort Worth in Texas did not want to execute her and her family wish because of their laws which stipulate that they cannot cutting off life support to a pregnant patient. 


Jill Labbe, a spokeswoman for the J.P.S Health Network who’s on the side of the hospital’s actions, claims that J.P.S Hospital will always follow the law as long as it applies to health care. On the other hand, many states adopted ,since the 1980s, laws authorizing patients or the family to choose about life support of terminally ill pregnant or not women, explain Katherine A. Taylor, a lawyer and bioethicist at Drexel University in Philadelphia. These states who follow the most restrictive such laws, which require life-support treatments as long as the pregnancy is, reject women rights that allow them to direct their health care in advance and determine how they want to die, asserts Ms. Taylor. Every cases that Jeffrey P. Spike, professor of clinical ethics at the University of Texas medical school in Houston, knew of terminally ill or brain-dead pregnant women on life support were decided with the patient or family’s wishes. Lynne Machado explains that it makes no difference the experts’ choice because all they wants is honoured Ms. Munoz last wishes.



That situation involves many ethical issues. The Texas’ law, about continuing life support to a pregnant patient, is based with the support among the opposition of abortion. Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life asserts the fetus should be considered as a separate person and that he agree the treatments of life support to try as hard as possible to rescue the child alive. The hospital assumes applying the law, but the law states that a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient. So the issue in this case is does the law must be also applies to pregnant patients who are brain-dread or only to those in a coma or a vegetative state. This is why several expert in medical ethics said the J.P.S Hospital was misconceive the situation. An other arguments on side of legal and ethical experts would say that brain death which is an absence of neurological activity is considered as legally death. Following that argument Thomas W. Mayo, an expert on health care law and bioethics at the Southern Methodist University law school in Dallas, claims that if Ms. Munoz is legally dead, she should not be considered as a patient and even less envisaged treatments options for her. An other point is that if Ms. Munoz is only at 14 weeks of pregnancy, she would have the legal right to an abortion.


I personally feel that our last wish should be realized after our death even if we are pregnant. It is as much important for the family to honoured the death person that they unconditionally love. The J.P.S Hospital follows the laws, but the laws is not always right. Several great people were able to prove it to us during our history, such as Martin Luther King Jr. who transgressed specific laws because they mismatched with some moral principles.


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This article is really interesting because the author show that the hospital do not define clearly what is considered to be death. If we could agree on the definition of "having no cerebral activity" being considered as dead this debate would not be there. Also, the argument about the abortion where they state that at 14 week she could have made that decision if she was still able too makes me feel like her last wish should have been respected. A normal pregnancy goes up to 40 weeks in total, which is an incredible amount of week to keep a brain death person plug in for them to be able to maybe have a baby that may or may be not in complete good health. In general, I feel that in that case transgressing some laws could have been a good thing to do.

For my Assignment, I decided to comment on your post because it is a very controversial ethical issue. According to me, everything has to be done to save a human life. If the mother cannot be saved. the doctor should be allowed (by law) to save the child. The child has no responsibility in the medical problems of his/her mother and should not be "punished" for that. He/she, as any other human being, has the right to life. We cannot take him/her away that fundamental right. As a consequence, the mother should be put on life support until the birth in order to save the child. The job of a doctor is to save lives and not to kill innocent human beings.

The subject you decided to comment about is for my part a really important issue that we do not often ear about, but that we should definitively address. The title of your post really makes us, readers, want to know more about this issue that’s what led me to read and comment your post. For my post, I comment in favor of legalization of assisted suicide but in this case I’ll be against the fact of respecting the wish of this pregnant woman. I definitively think that the woman should be put on life support until birth and only after the birth her wishes should be taken into consideration. The moral claim that support my position would be that a human life has fundamental moral worth. That’s why doctors should make their possible to save the baby’s life and then release the mother. Another important point to take into consideration is the father of this human being, he should have the right to make a living with his child. Even if the baby is not born he or she still have the fundamental right to live and that’s why we should not be allowed to take his or her life away. At the same time I also agree with your opinion but for a matter of time should we take away a baby from his or her father?

Hi, I decided to comment on your post, because this is a very rare issue and not every day we hear from that kind of issue. To begin, in my opinion, the Hospital should have asked the family if they wanted or not the baby to be born and not forced the women to live. I therefore agree with your point that `` It is as much important for the family to honoured the death person that they unconditionally love`` and not wait nine months to do so. Should the government reinforce the law on this type of situation?