Unplug Marlise Munoz from corpse support immediately

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Good afternoon:

I cannot stop pondering the ethical dilemma created by doctors keeping Marlise Munoz’s decomposing corpse on a ventilator so that the fetus in her womb can reach full term and be birthed into this world.

Since the beginning of our species approximately 200,000 years ago, pregnant women have died and will continue to die. That reality is not going to change, although the percentage of pregnant women who die probably will decline over time. Until relatively recently, the fetus perished with the mother, unless someone removed it with forceps or cut it out of the dead or dying mother’s body and it had developed sufficiently to survive on its own.

Our technology has created an ethical dilemma.

We used to define death as the cessation of a beating heart. We declared a person dead, if they had no pulse and we could not restart their heart.

If we could restart their heart, we could keep them “alive” pursuant to that definition, even if they did not regain consciousness, such as might be the case with someone in a coma.

We have changed our definition of death because our technology has rendered it obsolete.

We have intravenous lines to provide plasma and feeding tubes to provide nourishment.

Liquid waste can be removed with catheters.

Nurses and their aides can clean-up solid waste and re-position a patient to prevent bed sores and skin ulcers.

Ventilators can oxygenate the blood and eliminate carbon dioxide from it by inflating and deflating the lungs with air and a beating heart will circulate the oxygenated blood.

We can do all of these things to keep someone alive, pursuant to that definition, even if they never regain consciousness.

However, in what sense is a person alive, if he or she is unconscious and brain dead, an irreversible condition in which there is no detectable brain activity and no possibility of regaining consciousness?

Rene Descartes answered the question in his Principles of Philosophy, published in 1644:

Cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore, I am.

We have redefined death as the cessation of brain activity. Indeed, without the assistance of a ventilator, a brain-dead person’s heart would soon stop beating and they would be declared dead pursuant to the old definition. For that reason, doctors have decided that it’s unethical to keep a brain-dead body on a ventilator. Expressed another way, it’s unethical to keep a corpse attached to life support equipment.

The ethical question is whether we should make an exception to that rule when a pregnant woman dies?

I propose two simple rules:

(1) Always disconnect a corpse from life support equipment; and

(2) Remove the fetus from the corpse, if it is reasonably capable of surviving outside the womb, given the state of medical technology. (I am thinking of premature births and hospital nurseries)

I would disconnect Marlise Munoz from life support immediately and I would not remove the fetus from her womb because it is not reasonably capable of surviving outside the womb, given the state of medical technology.

Marlise Munoz is a corpse, not a person.

A corpse cannot be a patient.

Her unborn child is a fetus, not a person, it has no cognizable right to life, and it certainly cannot viably survive outside the womb. See Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).

The Texas statute upon which the hospital relies in refusing to disconnect her suffers from the same infirmity as the Texas statute criminalizing abortion that the United States Supreme Court struck down in Roe v. Wade because it prohibits the hospital from disconnecting any pregnant woman from life saving equipment, regardless of the viability of the fetus to survive on its own outside the womb. The statute also impermissibly requires a doctor to violate an ethical rule of the medical profession, which is much better suited to establish its own ethical rules than the Texas Legislature, which has no business criminalizing ethical medical conduct.

Since Marlise Munoz is brain dead, we can infer that the fetus was deprived of oxygenated blood for at least 6 minutes. I don’t know how that might have affected a 14-week old fetus. Just because its heart is beating normally, however, does not mean it’s okay and it certainly cannot viably survive outside the womb, a principle concern in Roe v. Wade.

This ghoulish situation reminds me of horror plots such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery and their various progeny.

Our technology has outdistanced our wisdom.

A baby coming into existence by feeding on its mother’s corpse makes me shudder with revulsion.

Some things are not meant to be.

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68 Responses to Unplug Marlise Munoz from corpse support immediately

  1. Soulcatcher says:

    I agree fauxy.

    Knowing that the fetus is abnormal, there is fluid on the brain, and possible heart problems, they should have already pulled the plug. It’s a different situation knowing it will end bad and their is no hope.

  2. fauxmccoy says:

    H/T to cielo for the article

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    “According to the medical records we have been provided, the fetus is distinctly abnormal,” the attorneys said. “Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined.”

    The attorneys said the fetus also has fluid building up inside the skull and possibly has a heart problem.

    “Quite sadly, this information is not surprising due to the fact that the fetus, after being deprived of oxygen for an indeterminate length of time, is gestating within a dead and deteriorating body, as a horrified family looks on in absolute anguish, distress and sadness,” the attorneys said.

    http://www.chron.com/news/texas/article/Attorneys-Brain-dead-woman-s-fetus-abnormal-5166403.php

    there is no way that this will end well.

  3. Soulcatcher says:

    Hearing Friday for Family of Pregnant, Brain Dead Woman

    http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Hearing-Friday-for-Family-of-Pregnant-Brain-Dead-Woman-241379381.html

    The Motion to Compel, if granted, would instruct John Peter Smith Hospital to remove Marlise Munoz from life-support. The motion will be heard at 3:15 p.m. Friday before the 96th District Court of Tarrant County.

    Anybody have any thoughts on this, since the fetus will be 22 weeks.

    • Thanks for the update. I hope the hearing is covered livestream.

      My position has not changed. I still say disconnect her and would so order, if I were the judge.

      Since this is Texas and the fetus will be at 22 weeks, I would not be surprised if the judge takes a wait-and-see approach by continuing the matter for 2 weeks to get to the 24th week when doctors can check it for brain activity and other signs of life.

  4. Soulcatcher says:

    fauxy, yes those picture are pretty disturbing, having the child hold the dead baby is even more disturbing. Then again, I guess I don’t have to look. I’m not quite sure their reasoning to post pictures like that.

  5. fauxmccoy says:

    somewhat disturbing article — just a fair warning

    an american woman at 19 weeks pregnant goes into labor, delivers a baby that dies moments later. the family documents the event in photos

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2542212/Mother-shares-heartbreaking-photos-baby-miscarried-19-weeks.html

    i can understand as one who has miscarried and held the hands of girlfriends who have delivered still borns at full term how important this is to the family and i would take nothing away from them.

    although sharing of such private photos is becoming more popular, i will admit to my own discomfort when a handful of friends posted pictures of their stillborns on facebook etc. i do not mind seeing the photos in their home, as i know and love these women and know how much they wanted their babies. it helps them with the healing process and for too many years, medical professionals and funeral homes whisked away these small bodies from the mother thinking ‘it was for the best’. women are realizing that they have greater options now, most get it that nothing will breathe life into these cold, grey bodies — but the opportunity to see, hold and mourn the ‘what could have been’ seems to be of enormous benefit for those who wish.

    i question whether bringing younger siblings into the mix is wise, but it is not my decision to make and i shall never have to make such decisions again. i am really distressed when i just stumble across such photos on a place such as facebook, it can be unexpected and disturbing. i certainly do not want my 13 year old daughters (old enough for facebook) exposed to such haunting images.

    all that aside, this is darn close to marisa and erik’s fetus at this time in terms of gestational age . even if this fetus should survive the birth process, anyone can see that this is far from a healthy, happy baby. i do not wish this process upon this poor man who simply wants to bury his wife along with his dreams of what might have been.

    the two things that stand out for me in the munoz case, is that the hospital is disregarding the wishes of the surviving spouse and the parents of munoz.

    if munoz had been able to recover from the brain injury that took her life (impossible, i know) she could have chosen to abort (she still could in some states on the basis of health to the mother or fetus). a medical PoA could have accomplished the same in many other states. the law of texas makes it clear that pregnant women have less rights than that of other humans and is flawed on that ground. DNR orders as well as medical PoA can and clearly are disregarded by the state. that is wrong, morally and ethically, it creates a separate but not remotely equal class and i should thing that no one could support such.

    • fauxmccoy says:

      beyond that, i will add that any argument which at its base is formed as ‘but do it for the children/fetus’ is flawed and that is the only argument the state of texas and its supporters have.

  6. Soulcatcher says:

    gbock,

    •22 Weeks: Less than 10% of babies born at 22 weeks live to NICU discharge.
    •23 Weeks: Survival varies greatly. Between 1/4 and 2/3 of babies born at this gestational age will survive.
    •24 Weeks: About 1/2 to 3/4 of babies will live.
    •25 Weeks: Up to 85% of babies will survive.
    •26 Weeks: 80% to 93% of babies born at this

    I believe if this had been resoved when she was first admitted I would feel different, but it wasn’t. 7 weeks have passed, the fetus is now in the 21st week. At this point I believe they would perform, a cessarian, chances are not good for survival. Look at the next couple of weeks, then what? Again, I stress, the circumstances are different, but at this point I beleive it is almost to late to terminate. Abortians are not even preformed past this point. It’s not my call, but in the next couple of weeks, who would want to be responsible for that call. Pull the plug and let the baby die, but what if? Sad situation for sure.

    • gblock says:

      I didn’t realize that this situation had already been going on for some weeks. While this doesn’t change my feelings about the Texas law in general, it may change what should be done in this case. My understanding is that the cutoff for abortion, in most cases, is 24 weeks gestation. Thank you for the data, but note that even after survival rates start to improve, it can mean a long NICU stay and still many cases of serious long term or permanent physical problems and developmental disabilities.

  7. Girlp says:

    Who pay’s for this once’s it’s over?

    • The hospital will send the bill to her husband and sue him if he doesn’t pay it.

      That will be another lawsuit.

      • Girlp says:

        I doubt he can pay a bill like that his only other option will be bankruptcy.

        • fauxmccoy says:

          of course, girlp. that is just one of the sickening aspects of this. the hospital bill now is into the millions, no one could possibly pay it (or only precious few). add on the additional weeks necessary in ICU, prior to cesarean delivery and then the necessary neonatal ICU costs for what will assuredly be a preemie, should the fetus survive plus additional costs for any birth defects. and then what? just discard old mom who we’ve kept hanging around because she is no longer ‘needed’ to fulfill someone’s agenda other than hers and her family’s?

          uggggg ………

        • Soulcatcher says:

          I know here in Ca, he could apply for Med-i-cal. It is a program that helps familys based on your income month by month. You can own your home, car, have medical insurance, some savings ect. For example, based on your dependants, they say you cannot make more than $1200 per mo, but you income is $2000 per month, your share would be $800 for the month, they would cover the rest. Its only used for the month or months that you need it, and is used in situations like a couple who don’t have insurance for one reason or another, and are expecting a baby. They will usually have a large bill one month for labor and delivery.

          FYI, did you know some hospitals have money set aside in a charity account? I didn’t either. My husband got hurt on the job years ago and went to the hospital. He filled out papers for workmans comp. Years later I saw a collection on our credit report, and I call the hospital and asked what it was for. His employer at the time didn’t submit the needed paperwork, and it became uncollectable after a couple of years. I told her the situation, and she said she would promply remove it, and also advised me that it had been taken care of by money allotted in a charity account. I told her thank you, but his employer should have taken care of the bill, and I would make sure that money got to them to put back into the charity account. I wrote a letter to bitch and told her off, and made sure she made a nice contribution to the charity account.

          I kind of have mixed feelings on this subject, for some reason it bothers me to why the husband doesn’t want the baby. I even asked my huband if that had been me, how would he feel, and he said no question in his mind, he would want the baby to try and be saved. There are alot of things they can see at this stage of development, and some they cannot. A baby can live outside the womb at around 22 to 23 weeks. A friend of mine was born at 24 weeks and weighed 1 lb 13 oz, and that was 45 yrs ago. Of course this is not the same situation. My last thought is, for some reason the pregnancy is not termintated, and the baby is born with no or few complication, would the father want the baby then? We know his choice know, was he excited about the thought of becoming a father before, not all men are.

          • fauxmccoy says:

            @soulcatcher who says

            We know his choice know, was he excited about the thought of becoming a father before, not all men are.

            and

            I kind of have mixed feelings on this subject, for some reason it bothers me to why the husband doesn’t want the baby.

            your concerns are misplaced. the couple (now single dad) already have one 15 month old son and were very much looking forward to their second child. take a look at articles about the family. both the woman’s parents and the husband absolutely know the mother’s wishes, because both husband and wife were EMT’s and know the meaning of ‘brain death’.

            they have deeply personal feelings about the woman that they all loved and the child she was carrying, as did the mother. why do you think the state should have a greater controlling interest in what happens to the bodies of pregnant women? why do pregnant women in the state of texas have less rights than non pregnant women? why should this man be forced into these difficult position and decisions that no one should have to make?

            your judgement about his desire to be a father are way off, please reconsider.

      • fauxmccoy says:

        thus adding insult to injury, eh? oh hell, the whole thing is insulting to this family.

        for the entire history of mankind, until the last couple of decades, we knew as a species that childbearing can and could be dangerous and that there are no guaranteed outcomes for either mother or child. for the majority of this time, the health of the mother was more critical than that of the fetus because it does no one any good to have a widowed man with children and now a potentially damaged infant on his hands.

        this situation is so ethically flawed, i hardly know where to begin with my outrage.

        • Soulcatcher says:

          fauxy,
          I will read the articles, like I pointed out, I didn’t know the fathers position, I should have started at the begining. I’m in the process of moving, so I missed it, so I think I should catch up first before I open my big mouth. It may stay big, like I said, I’m not quite sure of how I feal. I do not like the money factor being thrown around, I feel that it will be taken care of one way or another. That of course is my own opinion.

          • fauxmccoy says:

            i can appreciate that, soulcatcher. thanks.

            as far as the money issue, i expect it will be taken care of, as you say, one way or another. the worst way i can imagine though is by the state *forcing* bankruptcy upon the father in a case where the state allows him no place in making any decision. i know i would hate to be in such a position, i suspect most folks would. but yes, one way or another, it will be handled.

      • towerflower says:

        From what I understand, they were both paramedics and as such most likely have health insurance from the county/city that they work in.

        • We’re talking millions of dollars and I’d be willing to bet that there’s a lid on what the insurance company will pay.

          • Malisha says:

            I have an idea. Those legislators who supported that idiot bill should not only pay all costs associated with this ghoul-a-thon but they should also be responsible for “wrongful life” suits brought by the family charging millions of dollars for each day Ms. Munoz’s body was denied dignified burial rites and death benefits.

          • Soulcatcher says:

            There may a lid on what the insurance pays, better yet, what happens when there is no insurance. Who pays when the mother comes across the border to drop 8 or 9 babies. I’ll bet there are more than a few born with complications requiring long stays. Do the doctors throw up there hands and shout if you can’t pay, you can’t stay. I don’t think they rush out to the mailbox each day expecting to get a payment.

            What makes this different is the fact the mother is on life support, other than that, there are mothers in the hospital everyday with complications, some for months, in the attempt to help her reach as far to term as possible. Some of the mothers know already the baby has downs syndrom, or heart problems, or birth defects, or conjoined births. Some babies even have surjury before birth, or recieve drugs to help their chance for survivial. What about the women who take fertility drugs and have multipal births, like octomom, think she paid for all those babies. And then we have the drug addicted mothers who continue using during pregnancy, many with cps awaings outside the door for the drug test on the baby as soon as it is born, waiting to take the baby if posative. Think there is a chance the hospital is going to get paid by many of those. Bill the babys daddy, ummmm, don’t know who he is, or no ones talking.

          • gblock says:

            Soulcatcher, you’re not really making a lot of sense here.

            To begin with, some of your specific examples. A baby born at 22-24 weeks has the odds stacked against it. I don’t know the specific figure, but my impression is that not more than 25% survive. The others die, often after weeks or months in the NICU. Of those that survive, some are OK and eventually lead pretty normal lives, but many have some level of brain damage, anywhere from mild to very severe physical and cognitive impairments.

            Fertility drugs have gotten to be fairly mainstream medical technology. It typically means a pretty hefty payment on the part of the prospective parents, but many middle and upper income people can manage it. Normally, not more than 3 embryos are implanted at one time – Octomom’s doctor got a lot of criticism and a competency investigation for implanting 8!

            And yes, the doctors are always pushing the envelope with respect to new treatments for problems arising during pregnancy.

            But with respect to your examples in general – just because some people choose not to abort a fetus known to have disabilities or other medical issues, or go through problem pregnancies, or iffy medical procedures during pregnancy, or game the system, that’s not a reason for forcing treatment which will end up being ridiculously expensive on a pregnant brain-dead woman in a situation that is likely to be pretty much hopeless for the baby.

  8. Boyd says:

    I would not want to be the one ending the fetuses life.

    If the Doctors say there’s a chance for a healthy baby, I’d be inclined to try, My wife teaches mentally handicapped children, By Observation and listening to my wife, the parents love them and the education system does a good job helping.

    • Malisha says:

      But are any of them 14 weeks old (not since birth, since conception)?

      • Girlp says:

        Malisha I have serious doubts the fetus will survive if she had been 5 or six months along he or she would have a chance from everything I’m reading. They would have delivered he or she within a week of the mother dying. The fetus is being subjected to shocks, medications and chemicals given to it’s mother and that’s not good at all.

        • towerflower says:

          Girlp: But I found this on the American Heart Association and a section on pregnancy and using a defibrillator : “There is no evidence that shocks from a direct current defibrillator have adverse effects on the heart of the fetus.”

          We also don’t know the meds the mother was given and whether or not they would have an adverse effect to the fetus.

          but read the article that I reference to Malisha. The baby in that one was born healthy and there was only a week difference in pregnancy.

      • towerflower says:

        Malish….I put this on another thread

        http://www.dailystar.co.uk/real-life/350927/Life-after-death-Dead-woman-gives-birth-to-baby-and-saves-four-other-lives

        This story is about a woman in Hungary who was only 15 weeks pregnant and they kept the brain dead mother alive trying to prolong the pregnancy as long as possible. Not only was the baby born healthy, the mother went on to save 4 other lives via donation of some of her organs. They even operated on the dead mother.

        • Rachael says:

          so? we should now farm dead bodies? that is horrible.

        • When you are brain dead, you are dead.

          The case you describe is unethical medical experimentation and the Texas hospital’s actions are contrary to the mother’s and father’s wishes.

          • Soulcatcher says:

            Alittle off topic. I remember when I was 12 yrs old, I was at the drive-in with my brothers, dad and step-mom who was pregnant. I overheard her tell my dad she hadn’t felt the baby move for a day. She went to the doctor the next day and they couldn’t find the heartbeat, she was 8 months along. They decided to let her go full term just in case the baby was turned and just couldn’t hear the heartbeat. So she carried the baby to full term, they induced labor, she had they baby, and it was born dead. He was perfectly formed, and they were unable to tell what went wrong. They were asked if they would donate the baby to science, and they did. I always thought that was good of them to do that, that they were able to look beyond their grief, if in the future it would help others.

        • gblock says:

          I’m not sure that I trust reports of the baby being born “healthy”. In a 27-week gestation birth, complications are typical, because of the immaturity of the lungs and other organs; babies aren’t really ready to be born that soon. Of course, it’s not clear that any complications that are due to the unusual situation can be identified separately from those that are simply due to the prematurity of the infant.

          I also find it really peculiar that they would harvest organs for transplant in this situation, especially after the donor body had earlier developed sepsis as described. Will that result in serious complications for the organ recipients?

          • fauxmccoy says:

            @gblock — yes, i would want to see this case documented in a medical journal before i put much credence to the claims.

    • Rachael says:

      But in this case, the father does not want this!!!!

    • Rachael says:

      That was supposed to be for Boyd. we are not talking about what YOU would be inclined to try. THAT man does not want to. It doesn’t matter what you ant or believe, it doesn’t matter what I want or believe. but that man should have a right to not have this all forced on him.

  9. colin black says:

    Truth Is if this poor lady needed life saveing treatment with out the fetus inside her womb .An with out money or insurance they would let her die.

    An now because of a right to life bill or some such,
    They are pulling out all the stops to keep her dead body breathing?

    • bettykath says:

      This is TX where the fetus has more rights than the woman, even if she is alive and well. Of course, once the child is born, mom’s on her own b/c there isn’t much of a safety net in TX. It is also the state that has no problem executing people who have been proven to be innocent of the crime.

  10. Rachael says:

    I’m reposting this from a different thread:

    Interesting how you bring G-d into this – when it is convenient for YOU. There is an old Jewish joke about when life begins:

    “A rabbi, a priest and a minister are discussing when life begins. The priest says: “In our religion, life begins at conception.” The Minister says: “We disagree. We believe that life begins when the fetus is viable away from the mother’s womb.” The rabbi responds: “You both are wrong. In our religion life begins when the kids graduate college and the dog dies.”

    Anyway, if you believe that G-d has anything to do with this, then you know that G-d “called this woman to be with Him,” as you people would say. You are keeping that baby from being with his/her mom and G-d by playing G-d with man-made machinery that lets a dead person become an incubator until he/she can be out in the world. Who are YOU (I don’t mean you personally, but you collectively that feel it is your place to put a corpse on life support) to act as G-d? Where is your concern for her life? She is disposable after she has served her purpose? If you so believe in G-d, let this baby AND the mom go and be with G-d now.

    I hate to bring religion into this, especially after yelling at you and saying leave G-d out of this, as this is more about modern machinery and nothing to do with G-d, but maybe I am looking at this from my religion in which that “baby” has a potential for life, but is not yet a life. In my religion, G-d is on the side of life. The life of the mother is gone. The baby is potential, but NOT life. The baby cannot live away from the mother. What you are proposing, in my relgion, is against G-d. G-d’s relationship was with the woman, not the unborn child. According to my religion, the baby is not viable until it can breath on it’s own, away from his/her mother. In fact, it is so written in the Bible that life begins with the first breath. After G-d *formed* man in Genesis 2:7, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being”. Although the man was fully formed by G-d in all respects, he was not a living being until after taking his first breath. There are many other references to breath in the Bible.

    So anyway, as far as I’m concerned, IF you are going to bring G-d into this, you really need to look at what G-d wants, not what YOU want.

    • masonblue says:

      Good story. Good comment.

    • Lyn says:

      G-d has not told me specifically what he/she wants with the fetus but apparently wants people to have longer life then 50 years as he/she has helped the advance of life saving medicine in the last 100 years. How bout we take away all modern medicine starting with beta blocker for the oldies?

      • breelee says:

        Lyn, anything I’ve posted hasn’t been meant to pick on you or your beliefs. I admire your fight for life. I just disagree this case is them fighting for the baby. I think its all about saving themselves from lawsuits and they’re experimenting on this poor woman. The mom died from lack of oxygen, the baby suffered the same. They shocked her, they fed her strong medications trying to save her life. These also were passed on to that poor little one. I worry more about this child’s fate IF its born and lives.

      • fauxmccoy says:

        dead people cannot be ‘treated’ … that is the significant difference between maintaining a life-like appearance to a decomposing corpse (and it is — read the report that brelee posted) and giving medication/procedures to the living.

        no one is suggesting that we cease to treat the infirm or elderly with any type of modern medicine but you.

        ‘treating’ the dead with anything but embalming fluid, however, is ghoulish. how many dead bodies should be maintained in this fashion? who decides? does a death certificates now mean nothing?

        what is happening to jahi mcmath and maria munoz is what was customarily done for a few short hours to allow the family to gather and pay final respects or to allow for organ donation. there is no way that it can be prolonged indefinitely. even with a ventilator, the only thing that is actually occurring is retarding the decomposition process.

        i used to think the USSR or others who displayed departed leaders in glass coffins in as much of a life like state as possible to worship and adore was gruesome, but it is nothing compared to our new norm.

      • bettykath says:

        Lyn, I don’t know where you’re getting your information but the research that I have been doing (17th century) shows many people living well into their 60s and 70s with a few sticking around into their 80s and even later. In the 17th century, most deaths were of infants and of mothers who died during childbirth. Once the children got to be about five years old, they tended to live fairly long lives, unless they were female and had a difficult pregnancy. Once the industrial revolution came along overall life expectancy of the workers dropped due to unsafe working conditions and child labor. Once regulations were put in place, mainly due to union demands, to improve unsafe working conditions and to eliminate child labor, life expectancy again improved.

        While modern medicine has helped some have longer lives, it has also killed many. Big pharma had a hand in my aunt’s death and nearly killed my uncle. A hack surgeon finally got my uncle. Based on my own experience, I think I will live a longer and healthier life if I stay away from the medical establishment.

        • Lyn says:

          The average life span 100 years ago was around 45 years. That can be goggled. Sure a few lived to 80 but few and far between as do the 96pluses. More people died of disease in the Civil War for instance then of gunshot. Simple diseases like diarrhea, vomiting, were and without modern medicine. 50 Million died during a flu epidemic in 1918. Today, the average life span is 78 which is huge. Big pharma like big oil and big gas have given us an unimaginable life time. And of course, staying away is your choice. Not mine, cause I can’t go without beta blockers, BP pills and Lopressor to control my chronic A Fib.
          Great chatting with you.

        • gblock says:

          My impression is that 100-500 years ago, there was probably much less way that people could form a particular expectation of how long they would live. As Lyn pointed out, there was a much higher likelihood of dying from disease or from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. But as bettykath pointed out, there were also a lot of people surviving into their 60s and 70s, probably a lot fewer than nowadays living into their 80s and beyond.

    • towerflower says:

      I didn’t bring up “G” but since it is here now……….

      I don’t know what Gods will is or isn’t. But I do believe that he gave us the power of knowledge to learn and do things with that knowledge, we can now save others that before would surely have died.

      People have been kept “alive” for various reasons…..life support for the dead so that transplant teams and patients can be arranged, waiting to find a family to get permission, or a family not willing to let someone go. Here we have a case where the state is fighting it because of the life of the unborn child. It’s been done before and I listed a link of a woman who was brain dead at 15 weeks and they let the pregnancy progress as long as it was safe for the unborn baby…….at one point they even gave this woman surgery,,,,,after death, to help ensure the baby’s survival. The baby lived.

      While I understand the woman has a no-support wish, no one, not even her husband knows what her wishes would be if she was pregnant at the time–they never discussed that.

      But the baby still lives because the mother ‘lives’, it still has a heartbeat and there is nothing to show that the baby has been harmed by the mother’s death/life support, so IMO it should be given a chance at life.

      • fauxmccoy says:

        @towerflower

        i will not even debate any religious issues, because no one ‘wins’ and we all lose when we do argue — but, i will say this.

        we may not know what this woman’s precise wish would be if the worst should happen to her while early or late in her pregnancy, one would almost assuredly have to recognize that texas law here is flawed. even if this woman had a signed DNR or her husband had a medical PoA, the state would intervene and force unwilling parenthood of very questionable ethics and health of the now developing fetus upon this man.

        what happens next? if the fetus is horribly damaged but somehow lives, what costs must this man assume? what decisions must he make? to parent or relinquish parental rights? remember, this decision has been forced by the state.

      • Rachael says:

        perhaps then you should offer to raise that child and pay the bills. If you don’t want to, than well…

    • Lyn says:

      G-d is not about religion, but a spiritual power, greater than ourselves. Fred, love the comment section and exchange of views.

  11. fauxmccoy says:

    this is not ‘life support’ it is ‘corpse support’ just as with jahi mcmath and i do not support this.

    thanks for the article, prof, and feel free to change your headline 😉

  12. Lyn says:

    Modern medicine has liberated us from a short life span of 40 years, illness and resining to our fate. It’s a miracle. At least, in first World Countries most women and fetus can be saved to live a life. I see no ethical dilemma in giving the gift of life to people. I certainly don’t want to go back to the days of preparing a person for death as treatment was so ineffective. I hope that this poor woman who has lost her life can give the gift of organ donations to others.

    • Too late for organ donation, I think.

    • breelee says:

      He’s right, its too late, far too late. Mom is decomposing and its poisoning what little was left of the baby. There isn’t a chance in hades the baby is normal, none. I’m shocked it hasn’t died already. If you read what the dr.’s have said is going on in the corpse, you’d hate that this experiment is being continued, and that’s what this is.

      I’m all for saving babies when the mom is brain dead when the child is viable. This one has already gone through too much at just a few weeks. This story sounds like one of the horror movies I watch, and it saddens me.

      • Lyn says:

        We don’t know that about the baby or that Mom is decomposing. Should we stop all stent repair, cardiac drugs, beta blockers that keep some many oldies alive? Most of us would be gone by 50 years without the advances make starting but not ending with vaccines. I support everyone get treated or nobody gets supported in their struggle for life. I am just thrilled at the advances in modern medicine to help the sick. And I remember wards and words of the poor souls kept alive by the Iron Lungs. Now that is a horror movie.

      • breelee says:

        http://media.nbcbayarea.com/documents/HeidiFlori.pdf

        I was wrong, this is for the 13 year old, Jahi, but wouldn’t the same be happening to this mom? This is hard to read, so be forewarned. The dr. explains about the body breakdown in delicate terms. I stand by my statement that the “baby” is being poisoned.

        • JJ says:

          The difference between Jahi’s body state and Mom is that the hospital kept life support with nutrition for Mom. The family attorney for Jahi said that her body had not been fed for a month. “You can’t feed a corpse” as the following article says. It discusses “What is death” and several states of consciousness i.e. coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious, and brain dead. The article alludes that only the husband has declared Mom brain dead. If true, why hasn’t the hospital tested Mom to determine state of consciousness.
          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/10/ethics-brain-dead_n_4577116.html

          • fauxmccoy says:

            the addition of nutrition to what is in essence a corpse does not affect said corpse.

            there is no incentive for the hospital to test brain activity; it does not affect the outcome based on texas law. there is no incentive and the results do not matter. munoz, however, is widely reported by reliable sources as brain dead. of course, the media can get things wrong.

            “Marlise Muñoz has had no brain function since November, when she collapsed from a blood clot in her lungs. Her wish was not to be kept artificially alive. Her parents and husband want to let her body die, and her brain-dead condition conforms to the definition of death under Texas law.”

            source: http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20140109-editorial-let-marlise-munoz-die.ece

            we do know that munoz went without oxygen for more than the 5-6 minutes at which point brain death is practically assured. from the NIH

            “Time is very important when an unconscious person is not breathing. Permanent brain damage begins after only 4 minutes without oxygen, and death can occur as soon as 4 – 6 minutes later.”

  13. It’s always sad to lose a baby along with a mother, but at 14 weeks a baby just isn’t viable and the outcome so uncertain . . . I can understand perhaps keeping a pregnant woman on life support for a baby nearer to term – for a few weeks, etc., but this case is ridiculous. The money used for this should be applied to saving the lives of people / babies who can be saved.

  14. O/T: Theodore Wafer’s murder trial is scheduled to start on June 2, 2014.

    He is accused of shooting Renisha McBride (19) in the face through a screen door with a shotgun after she knocked on his door around 4 am seeking assistance following a motor vehicle accident.

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