Pregnancy Creates the Best Moral Dilemmas

We have a brain dead woman being kept alive by life support. She clearly stated to her husband that she did not want to be kept alive by machines. The solution is simple enough, right? You remove her from life support and mourn the dead.

Plot twist! The woman is pregnant.

And in the great State of Texas a pregnant woman can’t be taken off life support. The husband says pull the plug, but the State says no. In an effort to try to do the right thing the most valid question to the brain dead woman would be: If you were being kept alive on life support while bearing a child would you like it to come to term? The question is never asked, but I can’t imagine any woman would say no. Maybe they would. But what are you, Susan Smith? Just let the kid have some juice boxes with their dad.

Philosophically I would like to boil this down to what creates the greater good.  In scenario A the mom gets to be taken off the feeding tube and the child never gets a chance to be born. In scenario B the mom acts as an incubator for a few months and the child gets to live, ideally to cure cancer.

I can’t imagine any mother would want to be taken off their feeding tube in this scenario, thus the law. But because she said the opposite and didn’t add addendums, her wishes will always be left in a shroud of mystery.


  1. When a woman asks not to be kept alive by machines if she’s brain dead, she probably doesn’t anticipate being pregnant when it happens. Grief might prompt the ‘dad’ to want to let his wife die with dignity but later I’m sure he’d be heartbroken that he’d also sealed the fate of his child.

  2. Is the body even capable of giving birth at that point? That seems just wrong to me, like reverse stillborn. I would not want to come to term in that circumstance. Moral dilemma aside, it seems like it’s completely dangerous.

  3. Just thought I’d give you an update: Due to the fact that she was oxygen deprived and is brain-dead, the fetus is completely nonviable… many people on the side of the couple and their family have been saying that was the most likely outcome.

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