Should a Dead Pregnant Woman’s Body be Preserved until Term Delivery of the Baby?
So consider this realistic scenario: a 23 year old woman is 3 months pregnant and suffers a massive brain hemorrhage which cannot be stabilized and the woman is pronounced dead on the basis of neurologic criteria (“brain dead”). On her driver’s license she permits, upon her death, for her organs to be removed for the use of transplant to a needy patient. She has never written an advance directive nor had prepared a legal Will. She has a husband, a mother and father and several siblings. There is chance, by prolonged intensive medical care, supporting her breathing, heart action and blood pressure and many chemical and endocrine changes that occur with death that her body can be preserved long enough for the fetus to be developed sufficiently so that it can be safely delivered into the world. And, at that time, organs can be removed for transplant. (Want to read how this has been done? Go to this link.) But who should give permission or deny permission to attempt to continue the pregnancy? If no prolonged support to the mother’s body is given and the fetus perishes, would this be considered an abortion? What if State law doesn’t allow for the fetus to die along with the mother and the State at this point assumes responsibility to direct the physicians to maintain the pregnancy? Who should pay the perhaps millions of dollars cost to continue the pregnancy? It would seem that the medical insurance company would not pay for preserving the body of a woman who was already pronounced dead. There are many other aspects to these real but rare scenarios, but first I would be interested to know what you think might be the right decision to be made. ..Maurice.