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Legally Bound But Pregnant

Essay By: greenglasses
Editorial and opinion

What happens if a woman has a DVR stating that in the case of an emergency she would not like to be put on life support...even more what if this emergency occurs when she is pregnant?

Submitted:Jun 24, 2014    Reads: 38    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

Green Glasses


An advance directive is a living will made to specifically state the following actions that a person wants taken if they were to become permanently unconscious or terminally ill. Currently, forty two states are legally bound to make these wills be followed through with as instructed by the persons represented, but eleven of the states have invalidated the will's of pregnant women who don't want to be on support. It becomes complicated, because then it opens the doors to the arguments between pro-life and pro-choice. The matter of who will make the decisions concerning the baby's life should be made by the family, but only if the baby's chance of survival is dubbed 50/50 or higher by a professional doctor. If a pregnant woman is put on life support and has a living will stating that she doesn't want to be treated, it should overrule state law that prevents life support from being withheld/withdrawn in that situation if she has no family to represent her unborn baby's life.

This particular situation happened in Texas, where the family was very set in that the mother clearly did not want to be put on life support and that with the chances of the baby's survival slim, it would be better to honor the mother's wishes. Unfortunately, Texas could not permit her living will under the argument that it doesn't represent the unborn baby. Weir quoted the mother's mother who strictly wrote, "This issue is not about Pro Choice/Pro Life. Our intent is purely one of education about how this [statute] null and voids any woman's DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order) if she is pregnant. We know our daughter well enough, after numerous discussions about DNR, that she would NEVER EVER consent to being hooked up to Life Support," (Par. 4). Texas carries a lot of pro-life citizens, therefore it's law is biased, but what is more concerning is that the family had been devastated by a law acting on the behalf of others instead of their loved one who's been put on a ventilator despite her wishes.

More effectively, if a pregnant woman on life support has no family members to represent her, but a DVR to carry out, then it should be legally binding despite state law. If a pregnant woman lacks a document of this type and family to support her then state law should be issued in it's wake whether it means keeping her on support for the baby or not putting her on support at all. In these situations the hospital is hardly to blame when it comes to the decisions made that might upset anyone due to it's duty in serving the law of the state and current healthcare system. Regardless, damage can be done if these thing's are not handled with care.

Some could counter this by asking if a living will should be taken seriously when it concerns a second party, and that if a woman stuck in this situation has a family to represent her, how will anyone determine if they have good moral judgement towards the mother's best interest? But the big picture is how can a state law providing the "common good" in the biased interest of the majority be the best to determine those kinds of choices over a minority in a rare situation? If the mother has nobody to represent her then it is a set deal that she has no one close enough to her to determine what is good for her, by her personal choices, and even more so her unborn baby. Specifically, most could agree that one's parents would be more trustworthy to represent their own child's respects, than state law.

The family's decision towards the unborn baby can be seen from either sides of the pro-life to pro-choice arguments, because initially it will be up to their personal beliefs. With this being said, the decision on holding the mother on support to save the baby's life should only be permitted if the baby's percentage of survival is on reasonable terms. With the recent event in Texas the mother had been said to only have been forteen weeks along. This means the baby was only in, "the first trimester, when a fetus cannot exist independent of the mother. As it is attached by the placenta and umbilical cord, its health is dependent on her health, and cannot be regarded as a separate entity as it cannot exist outside her womb," (Lowen par. 11). Reasonably, besides the cost of the mother's life, deciding to take the mother off of life support and losing the baby would be equivalent to having your average abortion.

Conclusively, without representation by family if a person is represented by an advance directive, it should be held legally binding by state law over any biased opinion. Furthermore, if a pregnant woman has a living will stating she does not want to be on life support, the decision to put her on it for the baby's sake should be made by her family, and expected results of survival made by a professional doctor. "A living will is a legal document that a person uses to make known his or her wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments, "(Berlin par. 5), so without it or family, the choice then can be made by the state law.


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