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January 9th, 2014
12:15 AM ET

Brain-dead mother forced to remain on ventilator

A brain-dead woman in Texas is being kept on a ventilator against her family's wishes. She is 20 weeks pregnant and state law prevents doctors from removing pregnant women from life support. It comes as the case of Jahi McMath is making headlines. Both cases are raising difficult and heartbreaking questions about life and death. Ed Lavandera has the latest.

Anderson discussed this with Art Caplan, Head of Medical Ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Center, along with Legal Analyst Sunny Hostin and Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Geragos.

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Filed under: Ed Lavandera • Jahi McMath • Mark Geragos • Sunny Hostin • Texas
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Maurice

    This is none of your businesses!!! If the Family and Father have made the decision, you should stay out of it. You do not have to sit and watch a dead woman for several more months as this family will have to do. You cannot predict what the outcome would be! So many of you claim you would take care of this child,but when the wash is out and on the line, where will you really be. If the Mother did not want to be resuscitated,her wishes should be respected. Perhaps she would be happier in Heaven with her child.....

    January 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm |
  2. susan

    it amazes me that no one thinks about the baby but what the mother would have wanted or what a brother would have wanted. Who wants to be born with cerebral palsy.It is hard enough being born healthy but in pain all the time? The father has made his decision and he is in mourning for his dead spouse.Have a heart. There is no baby at this time,it's not a viable child. This man has to raise thier one child alone now. And why would anyone want to condemn another human being to be born suffering a lifetime with cerebraL palsey ?

    January 9, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
  3. Name*dee

    Miracles haPpen let the parents decide

    January 9, 2014 at 7:44 pm |
  4. Hannah

    So they wan to kill the baby? Come on.

    January 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
  5. Sheryl

    I think that there is no murkiness to this. Brain dead is dead. She has already made her decision and it should be followed. Period!

    January 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
  6. Sylvia

    So what happens when the baby is born with cerebral palsy or a major learning deficit. Is the State of Texas going to pay this man for the baby's lifelong care?

    January 9, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • Marci

      My daughter has CP! I find that quite offensive honestly... I have spent a lot of time in the NICU and their are babies in there alive at 23 weeks! If they do not want the baby their is adoption... I have not 1 but 2 disabled children and I would NEVER have ended either pregnancy even if I knew they were disabled

      January 10, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
    • Liesa

      So if this child has a learning disability or is disabled in any way they don't have the right to life? So sad that nowadays everything comes down to money who will pay.

      January 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
  7. Trisha

    "Do you think Texas would ever pass a law that said, 'ya know, a man has a living will, and if his wife is pregnant, we're going to void it because he has to be a dad?" WHAT?! The father's body isn't required to keep the child alive. Holy apples and oranges, Batman!

    January 9, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
  8. Michele

    I think the state of Texas should go by woman's family wishes, and take her off life support. I've already heard that if the pregnancy goes through, the percentage is high that something will be wrong with the baby. Why should the father have to suffer! He should have her transferred to a different state that allows being taken off life support. I know I would donate money to help that cause!

    January 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
  9. Jean Givens

    Because I believe she would want her baby to live, I don't think she minds having her body hooked up. I think it's what any mother would do for her baby.

    January 9, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
  10. Rebecca

    Does the father not want his child to survive?

    January 9, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
  11. Joan G. Connor

    Oh please. This mother would want her baby to live. The father can give the baby away if he doesn't want it. I 'll take it whether it's perfect or not. Who is paying for this!!!!!??????

    January 9, 2014 at 11:45 am |
  12. Chris Pinter

    But, what about the baby? Do they not want the baby? It is half her, so i can not understand why they would chose to end the life of their baby....I just don't think the mother would be happy with this decision if she were aware of it....the poor unwanted baby 😦

    January 9, 2014 at 11:37 am |
  13. Kath

    This has happened before and the baby died in udero. Let the baby pass with her mommy

    January 9, 2014 at 11:33 am |
  14. Leslie Diane

    They should at least wait and see if the baby is viable, IMO

    January 9, 2014 at 11:07 am |
  15. Michelle

    My question is even though this woman wished not be put on life support, was that with regards to it just being her and not pregnant? Would her wishes be different while pregnant. I am a recent new mom and know that if this was me, I would want my baby to survive if I was not able to.

    January 9, 2014 at 8:45 am |
  16. christoff

    I'm not some radical prolife religious nut. but I speak from experience when I say; he unborn life inside her is not meaningless. if the woman is already braindead then it does no harm to keep her body alive so her son can survive as well. before you jump down my throat about what she thought she wanted while her brain functioned, think about this; she already has 1 son. what's the father going to tell him when he gets older? "yeah. you were going to have a brother, but he died when I pulled the plug on your mom. sorry about depriving you of a lifelong friend. but its what I thought your mom wanted." the experience I spoke of is that I lost a younger brother to a miscarriage when I was 3. I never got to know him and there still is a void in my family from his loss. there's more than just the braindead mother and her obsessed husband. the child they have matters too, as well as the child they are going to have. like a stone thrown in a pond, each of our actions ripples out to affect all those around us. don't steal that child's younger brother from him.

    January 9, 2014 at 4:21 am |
    • Suzanne

      What so many of you are not thinking about is the fact that this baby/fetus was only 14 weeks along when this happened. When the mother was not breathing and did not have a heart beat for an hour or more, do you not think that this would have affected the unborn child? All of her organs shut down, and the brain is the last to die...and she is officially brain dead. A machine is breathing for the mother now, and a machine got her and the baby's heart beating. There are overwhelming odds that this child will have serious defects (due to lack of oxygen) if born, and I don't think it is right to keep the mother and child alive, even if it is possible. For those who believe in God, he already made his decision, and for those who don't,.....politicians shouldn't be over-riding the husbands wishes.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
  17. Ms. WilliamsRNBA#18

    Anderson, the Point that is being missed in this sad yet needed discussion is that the decision for this mother to wanna die in the event XYZ happened was based on her life alone and not the life of her unborn child. If it wasn't so the mother and father would have aborted the pregnancy in the beginning. The mother wanted the baby before this tragedy happened so the LAW should honor her decision and give this baby a chance at life. If the mother didn't love the child she would not have been pregnant at the time of this Medical tragedy. Ask yourself/this ladies husband: If Jahi was alive and well would she still be carrying this baby and trying to give it a chance at a healthy and normal life?

    January 9, 2014 at 2:41 am |
    • Kay

      I think this is the exact point Sunny is making. She is stating that while this woman said she would never want to be on a ventilator, she doubts that the woman qualified that with "even if I am pregnant". And also like Sunny, I sadly feel that the father doesn't want to take care of a child alone that may have defects.

      January 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
  18. Denise Daubert

    In the case of the brain-dead 20 week pregnant mother who is being kept on life support by a court ruling ... mention was made that she and her husband had discussed neither of them wanted to be kept on life support should the situation arise ... has she a signed legal document to that effect? if so, this document should over-rule any state law. This is a sad situation.

    January 9, 2014 at 2:35 am |
  19. Debra brehm

    I'd like to comment on the woman in Texas whose body is kept alive for her fetus. So shocked by the comments of the lawyer and the other lawyer and the liberal writer and the female lawyer with a womb. If it is ghoulish to keep the brain dead woman alive enough to keep the fetus alive, isn't it murder to disconnect the only lifeline the fetus has? Disposable society must draw a line. This woman did not want to be kept alive artificially. Nor do I. If keeping my body pumping kept my fetus, baby, child growing and developing within...why not allow the life? If I am dead but my womb is alive why kill it?

    January 9, 2014 at 12:49 am |

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