Should a Brain-dead pregnant woman be provided somatic support to save the life of the fetus?

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 26 (4):130-136 (2016)
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Abstract

In recent years, a number of news stories were reported worldwide involving brain-dead pregnant women. Debates over providing life support to braindead pregnant women and delivery of their children have been around for some decades. Maintaining a woman’s life solely for fetal viability has become a major controversial social issue. Opposing opinions exist where one side supports the woman and her child should be left to die in dignity and the other side claims to protect the unborn child’s right to live. Each group has strong beliefs. This paper addresses main aspects when considering the continuation of somatic support to the brain-dead pregnant woman for the purpose of fetus delivery including; human death, dignity of the woman, rights of the fetus, proportionality of acts, and the woman’s donor status, and independence of mother and fetus. Then, the authors present several diverse opinions and positions concerning the legitimacy of life support for brain-dead women based on them and critically evaluate them. We show that each and every claim can be ethically refuted. This paper also approaches to those claims from three different points of views, which are that of the brain-dead woman, her fetus and her family. We believe that the brain-dead woman’s wish and dignity, the child’s predicted wellbeing after birth, and the family’s beliefs and welfare should all be counted equally when making the final decision. In conclusion, we argue that the decision can be ethically justified only when the interests of all parties are appropriately taken into consideration and protected.

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