Pregnancy and the Undead

By Mike Appleton, Weekend Blogger

In 1882 a man named John Kirchbaum submitted a patent application for a device which, when properly attached to a coffin, permitted the presumed deceased person to communicate to those on the surface that the burial had been premature. That someone would consider the erroneous pronouncement of death sufficiently common to support a market for such products strikes one as peculiar today, but the fear of possibly being buried alive was genuine in the 18th and 19th centuries. Until quite recently, after all, a determination of death was made solely by observation. Was the subject breathing? Did he have a heart beat? Under the common law, death was in fact defined as the irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions.

But in the 20th century two revolutions in medical technology changed attitudes and definitions. The first was the invention of the mechanical ventilator, originally intended to help patients breathe during surgery. The second was the development of anti-rejection drugs and their impact on the science of organ transplantation. The medical community quickly came to realize that continuing to provide oxygen to a deceased person greatly improved the viability of organs needed for transplant purposes. These advances created an obvious ethical and legal dilemma. A living person may agree to donate a kidney to save another’s life because we have two of them. However, other vital organs may only be removed upon the donor’s death. And if respiration is maintained to preserve organs after the donor has “died,” what has happened to our traditional definition of death? How can a person be deemed deceased if his or her breathing is being mechanically maintained?

The answer to the dilemma was the concept of “brain death,” the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain. In 1968 a study committee at the Harvard Medical School created a set of guidelines indicative of what was termed “irreversible coma”: the persistence over a period of 24 hours of a set of conditions including absence of spontaneous breathing or movement, fixed and dilated pupils, unresponsiveness and the absence of reflexes. Twelve years later the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws proposed the Uniform Determination of Death Act, which defines death as either “(1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem.”

The Uniform Determination of Death Act was approved by the AMA in the fall of 1980 and by the ABA early the following year. Since then it has been adopted by 37 states and the District of Columbia. Of the remaining states that have not formally adopted the UDDA, most have incorporated its definition of brain death into their statutes. It is clearly the prevailing law on the issue in this country.

And that brings us to the case of Marlise Munoz.

In November of last year, Mrs. Munoz was discovered lying unconscious on her kitchen floor. She was rushed to the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where doctors were unable to revive her. She was placed on a ventilator and tests confirmed that she has no brain function. Although a pulmonary embolism is suspected, the precise cause of her condition is not yet known. Under Section 671.001 of the Texas Statutes, a person is dead when “there is irreversible cessation of the person’s spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions.” When those functions are being mechanically maintained, death is determined by whether “there is irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function.”

According to her husband and her parents, Mrs. Munoz had discussed end-of-life issues with her family and it was her wish that she not be connected to life-support equipment if her condition were irreversible. The family has requested the hospital to disconnect the equipment, and the hospital has refused. Why? Because Mrs. Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant at the time of her hospital admission, and the Texas statutes governing advance care directives contains Section 166.049, which provides that “A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this sub-chapter from a pregnant patient.” In essence, the hospital is keeping Mrs. Munoz on life-support although she is clinically deceased and over the objections of her family in order to comply with one of Texas’ anti-abortion laws.

The Munoz case raises troubling questions of both logic and constitutionality. Thomas W. Mayo, a bioethicist at the Southern Methodist University School of Law, succinctly addressed the logic issue. “If she is dead,” he said, “I don’t see how she can be a patient, and I don’t see how we can be talking about treatment options for her.” Dr. Robert Fine, clinical director of the office of clinical ethics with the Baylor Health Care System, agrees. “This patient is neither terminably nor irreversibly ill.  Under Texas law, this patient is legally dead.” That reasoning is apparently unconvincing to hospital officials. “Every day, we have patients and families who must make difficult decisions,” responds Jill Labbe, a hospital spokesperson. “Our position remains the same. We follow the law.”

Regardless of the hospital’s position, the statute is clearly unconstitutional, at least as applied to this case. Under the decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), the state may not impose severe restrictions on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability. The Texas statute contains no limitations on its applicability. The Texas Alliance for Life, however, as well as other abortion opponents, argue that life-support should be continued for a pregnant woman, even if she is legally dead, effectively turning a corpse into an undead incubator. That rationale, of course, would support a statute mandating life-support for any individual possessing usable organs pending their harvesting.

The Munoz family filed suit last week in the Tarrant County court challenging the hospital’s decision. It is of no consolation to the Munoz family, but perhaps the courts will issue a decision that prevents this shameful episode from being repeated.

131 thoughts on “Pregnancy and the Undead

  1. Question(s): Is the fetus dead? If not, then how long do they (Texas officials and/or hospital administration) plan on keeping the ‘dead woman/mom’ viable or breathing to the benefit and/or detriment of the fetus? Until the fetus is able to live outside of the womb (20+ weeks)? What’s their (Texas officials and/or hospital staff) game plan?

  2. The human body is a miraculous marvel. There’s no way to know for certain that lack of brain waves means death, anymore than anyone has proof that a soul isn’t immortal. I always remind myself of the child who fell through the ice, was underwater for 90 minutes, without brain waves, not only survived but fully recovered. And just during the past week, I’ve learned that there are others who have survived brain death. How many patients have been murdered by ‘rush to judgement’ lab-coated psychopaths, to further the lucrative transplant industry?

  3. RWL:

    The hospital hasn’t said, but presumably they plan to keep her on a respirator until they believe they can perform a successful C-section.

  4. I wonder if it is even medically possible for a fetus this young to survive under conditions that are inherent in keeping the mother alive in this manner. There are going to be medical defects at the medical limit. Are the nutritional injectoins going to provide the fetus with folic acid to prevent spinal bifida and the litany of all trace and substantive life supporting elements to assure full and healthy living for the child? It doesn’t seem to me this would be possible.

    On a financial end, I would assume from that point forward (after the decision to withdrawl life support was received by the hospital and after the expected time for the woman to perish) the patient’s estate and/or their insurance company should be off the hook for making payments on future bills. The hospital should be liable for this or maybe the state depending on their laws. I wonder if the hospital would change their minds if it was established they were liable.

    Aside from the financial issue I agree this is medically unethical to continue this issue. I am not very familiar with the times involved but I would think a fetus of this age would not be viable and I can’t imagine what would be required to sustain this under the care of a premature birth.

  5. Samantha,

    Interesting article! Here’s another one, but I guess you have to also consider the credibility of the article(s), as well.


    by Ken Higgs

    Dr John B Shea, retired diagnostic radiologist & fellow of the Royal College of Canada, says: “A diagnosis of death by neurological criteria is theory, not scientific fact”. He was talking about so-called “brain death”, a medical concept invented in 1968 by Harvard Medical School to allow the retrieval of vital organs from still living patients.

    Dr Paul A Byrne, neonatologist and pediatrician, says: “In order to be suitable for transplant, (heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and pancreas) need to be removed from the donor before respiration and circulation cease. Otherwise, these organs are not suitable, since damage to the organs occurs within a brief time after circulation of blood with oxygen stops.”

    Friends… there is growing evidence that “brain death” is a medical fallacy, which cannot be accurately diagnosed. There is a growing number of patients who were declared “brain-dead”, only to later spontaneously revive and live. Here are some actual survivor cases:

    Zach Dunlap, a 21 year old Oklahoma man, was “feeling pretty good” four months after he was diagnosed as “brain dead”. Zach suffered severe brain injuries in a quad bike accident in Texas in 2007. He was declared “brain dead” and prepped for organ donation. But minutes before surgery commenced, he spontaneously revived when a concerned friend scratched his foot. Zach later told a TV show that he heard the doctors pronounce him dead, but was unable to do anything about it.

    Steven Thorpe, 17 year old Warwickshire youth, was declared “brain dead” by four doctors in 2008, but his parents did not give up on him, and insisted on another opinion from an independent GP and a neurosurgeon. Steven made an unexpected recovery and left hospital alive seven weeks later. He had suffered severe head injuries during a major collision between a car in which he was travelling and a runaway horse.

    Rae Kupferschmidt, 65 year old Minnesota woman, suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage in 2008 and doctors diagnosed her as “brain dead”. She was taken home to die and her family began making funeral arrangements. When Rae spontaneously sucked an ice cube offered by her daughter, she was found to be alive. She later walked.

    Gloria Cruz, 56 year old Northern Territory woman, was declared “brain dead” in 2011 and expected to ‘die’ within 48 hours. A doctor, a social worker and a ‘patient advocate’ urged her husband to remove the ventilator and let her ‘die’. But he refused and 3 days later, Gloria revived, awoke from her coma and was getting around hospital in a wheelchair.

    Clearly these survivor cases prove that “brain death” is a highly questionable concept that is putting lives at risk.

    Don’t abandon brain-injured people. Say “NO” to organ donation. My website,, is aimed at exposing the truth about organ donation and organ transplants, and the clear danger that industry presents to brain-injured people.

    Why not find out more at:

    Article Source:

  6. It doesn’t seem that they care for nor about the Grandchild she’s leaving behind, or at least could should they allow the baby to come to full term birth. Sad indeed for either side of this type of legal argument, I would want my unborn child to have a chance to live if it were me. But am sure there are also bills to be considered and religious beliefs as per burial etc.

  7. Permit me to be a bit flippant here. In the topic above this I commented on the mindset of Congressmen and women. Someone like Diane Feinstein is 80 years old and walking the halls of Congress and speaking as one. Yet by her logic she must be brain dead. She can walk and talk but jeso. Look what she is saying about NSA and Snowden.

  8. RWL

    The comment got snagged by the spam filter because it contained more than two hyperlinks. I edited it to conform to this and it is shown above. You can avoid this issue by posting only two links per comment. If you need to have more for your comment you can just put those into another comment.

  9. samantha:

    Michele Malkin’s column is meaningless. There are plenty of tests available to determine brain death. The McMath case is tragic because the family has been unable to accept the determination. However, you will note that their wishes were ultimately honored and their child remains on life support. In the second case, Malkin notes that the patient responded to a test of his reflexes, which means that he was not brain dead. A person can be in a coma without being brain dead. That was the case with the second victim.

    In the case I wrote about, the family has not been allowed to make any decisions. Why are you prepared to agree with the McMaths when they dispute the medical determination, but disagree with the Munoz family’s decision to dispute the hospital’s actions? Who should be permitted to make the ultimate decision on death? What would you use as the criteria?

  10. RWL:

    You cited a propaganda piece. In each of the instances related in the article, there were responses by the patient to external stimuli, all of which preclude a determination of brain death. It is not the standards for that determination that are suspect, but the manner in which they are applied. A diagnosis of brain death may certainly be wrong, and tragically so. But that is a failure to conform to prevailing medical standards, also known as malpractice.

  11. Mike A.,

    Here’s the point (and I have to give credit to Samantha for bringing this up): Can she ‘come back to life’? Is this a misdiagnosed or malpractice case, if she comes back to life? How many weeks, can she be on life support, before the hospital (or her husband’s insurance) says: ‘she is not coming back, let’s pull the plug’?

    I do understand the husband’s point of view, but why would he not want to get a chance to see if the child survives and his wife? If I was the husband I would never give up, if the fetus is still alive (regardless of the medical bills heading my way).

  12. I had one case when I worked the road where a man was driving about 90+mph when he failed to negotiate a curve and went off road. The ensuing rollover ejected him and he flew over 150 feet and landed on an adjoining highway, suffered severe head trauma. I arrived on scene about 10 minutes after it happened. When I checked the driver he was unresponsive, not breathing, and had no pulse. I checked his eyes (it was at night) with my flashlight and there was no response at all. In all my experience there was never a time given these conditions where a person survived in this condition.

    Unexpectedly, when I was just getting ready to call dispatch to inform the county coroner’s office the driver shuttered suddenly and began breathing and then had a pulse. He never regained conscious however and he later died in hospital. His BAC level was determined to be a .315.

    While this is only one event and I obviously did not have the monitoring equipment in the field to see where the driver was really at I can see how it is possible for unexpected results to happen. But I have to agree I have never heard of a person recovering from complete brain death.

  13. Michele Malkin’s cases notwithstanding, you do not strike me as a person who would reverse, even if you were to learn of a person who survived a pronouncement of brain death. MCMath was brain dead only because someone said she was brain dead. In China they harvest organs at the firing squad. In the US they harvest organs with a pencil on your medical chart.

  14. The idea of brain death evolved from the late 19th century, well before any organ transplantation was ever done.

    There have been recorded cases of patients coming back to life after cardiac death; it is a rare occurrence but it does happen, unlike brain death. There have been no recorded cases of people coming back to the life after actual brain death, as long as doctors follow the established guidelines for examination.

  15. In California the maximum hospital liability for death of a child is $250,000. On the other hand, if the child survives, the hospital faces potentially tens of millions of dollars in life long care. In other words, the hospital has a pretty big financial incentive to declare a child dead. This is really what the McMath case is all about.

  16. The Texas law and its application here is not about the fetus it is about showing women who really has control over their bodies alive or dead. It disgusting.

  17. If one follows the path of the “may not really be dead” school of thought to its logical conclusion, is anyone short of having their head severed, scattered to a number of pieces, or (really) large hole in torso ever going to be dead? If so, when? No breathing- not enough. No brain activity- not enough. What precisely will be “enough”?

    It sounds like only the inability to get a body to breathe by artificial means will work. However, it also seems that a person can “die”, but be kept breathing by artificial means if the equipment is available fast enough.

    Cynically, I could go along with the “will Obama-care pay for it” school of thought. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather the Munoz decision be made by the husband and parents (esp when they agree!) than a GS-7, approved by a GS-11.

  18. To use this woman’s corpse to incubate a 14 week fetus until viability, 20 to 24 weeks, is ghoulish. Her body is dead, her brain is dead. The only reason that fetus is still surviving is because the body is being supported by machinery and a slew of drugs, such as hormones, meds to pump up blood pressure, etc. her digestive tract isn’t functional, kidneys not functional, she’s receiving nutrition via IV. She was without oxygen for up to an hour, is that fetus affected? What of the drugs effects on the fetus. Now the widower who knew best what his wife’s wishes were is being denied his rights as her surrogate decision maker by the hospital because they are misinterpreting the advanced directive clause for pregnant patients. One must be alive to be a patient.

    Shame on the state of Texas and this cowardly hospital. I hope the family wins a huge reward or settlement. It’s now almost to the point of viability for the fetus, will it survive, be affected for its entire by being incubated in a dead body? Who will pay for all those weeks of extreme artificial life support for this poor dead woman and her unborn child? At 14 weeks she could’ve made a decision to abort in such circumstances, now that decision has been snatched away from her husband, her surrogate voice, in her death.

    How ethical is it for hospital’s administrations and ethics boards to take away the families rights as to the disposition of a dead loved one? Was this hospital pressured by the state of Texas?

  19. Also on a personal note, as a nurse who has cared for brain injured patients in a persistent vegetative state, I can say that is close enough to a living death, but to actually care for a body on life support after brain death, THAT is dead, as dead as dead as one can be. The head and neck area blow up from the oxygen leaking from the respiratorInto the surrounding tissues, the brain starts disintegrating and leaks form orifices, I won’t get any more graphic. To those who think brain death is misdiagnosed, no it isn’t.

  20. Keeping this woman’s body to use as an incubator? This is the ultimate trespass on personal freedom. This woman made her wishes known, and they should be followed.

    As a personal aside, it’s also creepy and weird.

  21. What annieofwi wrote:

    It truly is ghoulish to see what has happened and her experiences in the nursing profession are certainly helpful in this case. Too bad these hospital administrators haven’t been working the floor in a long time, if at all.

    I couldn’t help but think of the Terri Schiavo case. Not making a conclusion as to which way this case should have been decided, the entire matter to me got hijacked by those on a national scale, exploiting in my opinion this woman who suffered a terrible fate. It was reprehensible in my view. It seemed other than her husband or her parents who understandibly have interest and love for Terri, many who never knew her seemed to care more about their own cause and politics than the privacy of these family members or Terri. Politicians need to mind their own business and stay out of these matters. For at least the reason they seem to use it for their own ends.

  22. Having been on the staff of more than a half-dozen hospitals, and on the medical ethics committee of one of the largest hospitals in the state, I feel safe in saying that what is being done to this woman in the name of somebody else’s religion is both immoral and unethical.

    To second what Annie is saying, this is ugly beyond belief. The hospital staff who must take care of her should be getting some sort of “combat pay.”

  23. In the Munoz case, there is no proof of an embolism. There is no written record of Mrs. Munoz’s alleged wishes to be disconnected from life support.Therefore, there is no verification that she expressed this wish to her husband or parents who may have ulterior financial motives including payment of life insurance in the event of her death and that of her preborn child. There should be an immediate investigation into the likelihood that her husband assaulted her causing her serious but not yet fatal injury. His potential motive could be financial greed and rage when learning that the preborn infant is not his child, ergo his intense desire to terminate the life of the child.Mrs. Munoz should be thoroughly examined for evidence of assault including chocking, violent head, neck or chest injury, etc. Who first proposed embolism– her husband? Jahi McMath, Mrs. Munoz, and the baby are all still alive, and can recover with administration of pureed USDA organic juices, fruits and vegetables through feeding tubes. Organic foods are the purist nutrition possible, with no Genetically Modified Organisms(GMOs), no pesticides, antibiotics or hormones and few or no other toxins. Dr. Lorraine Day M.D. endorses an vegan organic diet in her DVD and VHS lectures ” Diseases Don’t Just Happen” “Drugs Never Cure Diseases” and Cancer Doesn’t Scare Me Anymore.” Dr. Day cured herself of end stage cancer using an organic vegan diet, sunshine, exercise and a peaceful lifestyle, and she recommends this for everyone. I have e-mailed to Attorney Christopher Dolan and Dr. Paul A. Byrne M.D. a list of the purest brands of organic juices and foods which can help all. There has been no response, but following is the list to help in the case of Mrs. Munoz and her baby. Life is always the right choice:
    All must have the round USDA seal certifying organic standards: Uncle Matt’s organic pulp free orange juice, Lakewood pure organic grape, cranberry, grapefruit, pinapple, prune,cherry, and pommegranate juices, Earthbound farms fresh organic carrots, cellery, lettuce, onions, potatoes, cucumbers. Auerpak fresh organic garlic. USDA fresh organic kale, mushrooms, green and red peppers, tomatoes. Woodstock frozen organic spinach, edamame, green beans, broccoli,corn, peas, Debole’s organic pasta, Lundberg organic brown rice, USDA organic black and garbanzo beans, Poland Springs spring water ( not distilled, no flouride ), USDA organic apples, pears, blueberries, raspberries, Dole organic bananas, Real Salt sea salt, Frontierherb organic spices including cayenne, black pepper, parsley, oregano, dill, turmeric, ginger,
    paprika, cloves, Full Circle organic maple syrup, Ahlaska organic dry baker’s unsweetened cocoa. Mix some of each savory ingredients together, and some of each sweet ingredients together and admi nister through feeding tubes. Raw fruits and vegetables are best. Boil potatoes, pasta, and rice. All life is worth saving.Also, please donate to the appropriate charities to ease the suffering of the over 2 billion vulnerable people in developing or war torn countries and the over ten billion victim animals in cruel conditions of factory farms for the meat industry to at least allow them free range healthy lives in the sunlight. Since there is not world wide policy to convert to renewable solar, wind and water energy, there will be insufficient oxygen to sustain life on earth in the next 80 years with the continued burning of lethal oil, coal and gas fossil fuels, so out tragic end is scientifically inevitable. In the meantime, we should alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable on earth, peacefully, humanely and without violence.

  24. The Taliban is alive and well in Texas. They prove there is a ‘war on women”, a woman being really, and only, just a womb.

  25. “there is irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function.”

    So, when there is evidence of a functioning hypothalamus, is that also evidence of spontaneous brain function?

  26. Sincere thanks to annieofwi for her insider’s illumination about what it takes to care for a person who is, seemingly without clinical doubt, brain stem dead.

    As I read this thread, I couldn’t help but think of Israel’s former PM Ariel Sharon who, while in a stroke-induced coma, recently died after having been artificially suspended for eight years on life support until some sources were beginning to question the $453 million cost (per year) and almost simultaneously, others were revealing how his organs were deteriorating. Matter of fact, relative to insufficiency of kidney function, this was the primary reason for his (now) official death as I saw reported by one publication.

    So, while I wholly agree with those who find such ‘treatment’ ghoulish whether it is done for a high profile adult or with a still womb-protected fetus, isn’t the ethical question really about whether either individual would want to be kept in such state of artificial suspension when there is (really) no known guarantee on how either a previously self-aware man or a still symbiotic or entirely dependent on its host fetus will metabolically evolve through that process to the other side or, to a first awakening moment of healthy consciousness?

    In other words, would either feel eternally grateful for what had been done to them and supposedly for them…no matter how their quality of life and free will, as is similar to yours and mine, may have been somehow diminished or even stolen from them? I mean, how do any of us make these decisions for another being who has neither inclination, opportunity or even a voice to speak for themselves.

    In Sharon’s case, his family wanted him kept on life support and in this little fetus’ case the father and parents want the mother’s host body to be let go. And since we can’t, with moral integrity, have it both ways as is determined by even caring surrogates, why aren’t we looking for a space of ‘ethical empathy’ that would promote what these individuals in their current state (not the future) would want for themselves in order to genuinely thrive or, not remain or become even more dependent.

    As one among the brightest to bless this planet once so aptly said, “The solution to a problem cannot be solved in the same mindset in which it was created.” –Al Einstein Put another way, perhaps ethical dilemmas such as these need to be regarded and embraced as being more so about what is, rather than what could be.

  27. This is a sad intervention by the state but it’s unfortunately mandatory….. FYI….. The presiding judge recused herself…. No reason why…..

  28. Attached is a report published in September of 2013 concerning a woman who suffered brain-death in the sixteenth week of her pregnancy. She was kept on life support for a period of 110 days and then delivered by C-section.

    It should be noted that in this reported case, the continuation of the pregnancy was done with the knowledge and consent of the family. And that is really the point. The decision should be left to the woman’s family, particularly if brain-death occurs prior to viability. The statute invoked by the hospital in the Munoz case takes the decision out of the hands of the family, even if brain-death has occurred prior to the stage of the pregnancy at which the interests of the state are entitled to prevail under the ruling in Roe v. Wade.

    If the hospital’s position is upheld, I know of no legal or constitutional impediment to enacting legislation mandating that all persons pronounced brain-dead be immediately placed upon life-support systems long enough for the removal of viable organs deemed suitable for transplant purposes. Surely the state’s interest in preserving the life of the unborn can be no greater than its interest in preserving the lives of transplant candidates at risk of death.

  29. Mike A,

    According to your original article, there is nothing in writing, stating that this woman wished to have the plug pulled on her. This complicates the entire situation. Why does her husband and family members want the plug pulled on not only his wife, but also on the surviving fetus?

    Your second article is very interesting! At 16 weeks, a c-section was performed? Wow!

  30. RWL:

    Mrs. Munoz did not have a written advance care directive. However, both her husband and parents stated that she had always expressed a desire not to be placed on life support under these circumstances (both she and her husband were trained EMTs). Obviously, it is not possible to withdraw life support from the mother without the fetus dying. I do not know the thought processes of the family members, but they were vehemently opposed to the state ordering that a deceased wife and daughter be ordered to serve as a gestation vehicle without their consent. The wishes of family members are routinely honored by hospitals even in the absence of written directives, unless there is a bona fide dispute among family members.

    In the case discussed in the article I linked to, the c-section was not performed at 16 weeks. The mother was 16 weeks pregnant when she was pronounced brain dead. Her body was kept on life support for a period of 110 days, or almost 4 months, prior to the c-section. The 110 days is apparently a record. But it means that continuing improvements in medical technology point to the need for continuing study of bioethical standards and practices.

  31. It seems like, contrarily to the Schiavo case, a third party – a foetus – is involved, which could justify delaying the cessation of care until the delivery of the foetus, provided this foetus is viable (i.e. without grave deformities) given the circumstances.

  32. I can see why the hospital is leaving her on support until the courts say otherwise: liability. The laws says, with room for interpretation, that treatment cannot be withheld from a pregnant patient. The hospital does not want to be the party doing the interpreting. Thus, the need for a court decision.

  33. visitor:

    1. Under Roe v. Wade, and despite the efforts of the Texas legislature to overrule that decision, the fetus had no standing when Mrs. Munoz became clinically dead. Therefore, the decision lawfully belonged solely to the family.

    2. I don’t know what “grave deformities” means, but a fetus can have a whole host of abnormalities and still be viable. And if a fetus is viable, should it be entitled to legal representation in the decision-making process?

    3. The Texas statute as applied in this instance violates a fundamental principle of morality: every person ought to be treated as an end in himself, rather than as a means to accomplish some other purpose. If one urges in response that Mrs. Munoz is dead and is therefore not a moral actor, then under what theory does Texas assert a right to exercise any control over the body of a deceased person beyond prescribing acceptable methods for disposition of the remains?

    4. Your response begs the question, but in doing so illustrates the core barrier to any intelligent discussion of abortion. Opponents of the right to abortion assume without argument that a fetus at any stage of development is a human being. However, there is not and has never been a consensus on that question. The issue here is not when “life” begins. That is a biological question. The issue is at what stage of development should we classify a fetus as a “person” within the meaning of the Constitution. The Supreme Court expressly declined to address that issue in Roe v. Wade, although its language suggests that viability is a rational point for recognition, and it remains a matter of debate. Until we resolve that issue, we will never be able to adopt a coherent abortion policy.

  34. annieofwi:

    I heard that report this morning on NPR. I am certain that medical professionals are not surprised. But then, to whom should we entrust women’s health? Who knows better about such matters than your local pastor?

  35. Dredd et All:

    I read your link. Do you find it kinda strange that not a single health professional (doctor or at least a nurse practicioner), from both sides, has publicly came forward to explain the status of the fetus? There has to be a potential lawsuit, requiring both mom (rip) and fetus to be dead in order for them (husband and family) to proceed to file a lawsuit against the hospital, state of texas, and/or their own insurance company??

    I waiting for a news conference, by the hospital & staff, describing the status of the fetus (we will never know the ture and/or complete status of the fetus due to HIPAA, or until probably its’ autopsy).


    This resulted in an unborn baby that is significantly abnormal in development due to the massive amount intervention in keeping it’s “incubator” on life support. Disgusting. This poor family went through hell because of a state that wanted to impose their religious beliefs on the citizens of the state of Texas. This could’ve ended when this fetus was 14 weeks in gestational age, now it’s probably over 20 weeks. Shame on Texas and this hospital.

    Deliberate misinterpretation of the clause for pregnant patients under Advanced Directives. The people who helped write the law have stated it was not meant to be applied to the dead. The dead are corpses, not patients. The family’s right to be the surrogate voice for this woman was taken away by government. How is that for small government?

    Social conservatives will embrace big government when it comes to imposing their religious beliefs on to the rest of us. I hope it’s clearer now that if they had their way they would be forcing women to carry and give birth, even after death.

  37. Anyone want to make bets on where the hospital will send the bill? By now, this fiasco has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I would not be surprised to learn the cost has run into seven figures.

    If this woman had insurance of any kind, I am confident they will refuse to pay on the grounds the treatments beyond the initial lifesaving efforts were medically unnecessary. As they should. The cost should be taxed directly to those lawmakers who thought this legislation was a good idea and voted for it. And turn them over to collections if they don’t pony up. That won’t happen, of course, but one can have a fantasy.

    One other sad part of this case is the fact it drained medical staff and hospital resources away from people who might actually be helped. Staff that are already overworked and underpaid for what they do.

  38. Leejcaroll,

    Your article doesn’t even tell us about the status of fetus (i.e. if the fetus is still alive). As I stated earlier, there still has not been anyone, from the medical community, from either side, giving us (general public) info about whether or not the fetus is alive.

    ‘Not viable’ could be anything, including being born with severe developmental disorders (there are childern born into this world with severe developmental disorders; do we want to murder them, too?).

    It still amazes me that neither side wants to tell us (general public) if the fetus is still alive………..

  39. Not viable means that when the child is born it has no chance of living. It could be not viable because of it’s gestational age or it could be not viable due to extensive deformities, it wasn’t made clear. Some fetuses at 22 weeks can survive, but this fetus being does not appear to have that chance because of it’s condition. How long should this dead woman carry this baby, especially in light of the family’s wishes and the poor condition of the fetus? Can a state government usurp the next of kin’s wishes in the disposition of their loved one because of a state sanctioned right to life ideology? The family has the right to make decisions as the dead woman’s surrogate, the state took away that right. The court gave it back. The right to life movement hasn’t done themselves any favors here. People who were on the fence about abortion may very well have been awakened to the reality that should they ever be in the same situation, they may want the choice to be theirs, not the state’s. This was a huge overreach by a state government, one that prided itself in it’s principle of limited government.

  40. Annie: “Not viable means that when the child is born it has no chance of living. It could be not viable because of it’s gestational age or it could be not viable due to extensive deformities, it wasn’t made clear. Some fetuses at 22 weeks can survive, but this fetus being does not appear to have that chance because of it’s condition.”

    You are assuming too much. We don’t know the condition of the fetus. We only know what legal representatives from both sides have informed us. Noone, from either side, has a medical professional taking questions (from the public) on the status of the fetus. Don’t you find it pretty odd that the husband and family & the hospital never has told us when fetus became ‘not viable’? Did the fetus become ‘not viable’ 1 day before a motion was filed in court? Or did the fetus become ‘not viable’ the day of the wife’s stroke or during the whole process of the wife being on life support?

    As Mike A has pointed out before, we don’t know what medical malpractice has (or if) been perpetrated or alleged.

    If it was my wife, I would do my best to try and save the fetus (my child), when it becomes apparent that there is no chance to save my wife. How many times has the husband made this announcement via the news? He hasn’t. When did he make an announcement, delineating his hope that the fetus would make it, if his wife didn’t? He hasn’t. However, he wants to make an announcement that the fetus to RIP with his wife? I beginning to wonder how much money that he has the potential to receive if both mom and fetus (combined) are pronounced dead.

    On the term viability (or not viable):

    ‘Viability exists as a function of biomedical and technological capacities, which are different in different parts of the world. As a consequence, there is, at the present time, no worldwide, uniform gestational age that defines viability.'[3]

    ‘There is no sharp limit of development, age, or weight at which a human fetus automatically becomes viable.’

    Think about this definition of ‘viability’ in terms of our health insurance industry, medical malpractice lawsuits, and political correctness (abortion rights): the fetus was dead long before mom even had the stroke.

  41. RWL,

    REALLY???? Are you that freaking DAFT????

    It is the USA… NOT sub saharan Africa…
    NOT Viable…. means just that…. NOT VIABLE….. NO amount of medical intervention will save that fetus/ baby…..

    I am a mother… and LOVE my child and would die for my child….
    What I would NOT want, is for my DEAD BODY to become an incubator
    for my child…. That is so beyond Grossly OBSCENE….

    If I would have died when pregnant, I would NOT want for my body to be
    kept alive in this manner to deliver my baby….
    I’m sorry… Can you imagine what that child will think when they find this out later????
    “Oh by the way… you lived in your mothers dead body for a few months….”

    Some people are just beyond stupid… It is selfish in ways I can not comprehend….
    This case is so disgusting and crossed the lines of ethical and MORAL
    a few months back….

    If you think gestating your unborn child in your DEAD WIFES BODY is
    LOVE…. you are one sick man…..
    That is not love for your unborn child or wife…. that is just selfish beyond comprehension….

    It seems that only the whacked in the head Religious FANATICS find this
    an acceptable way to treat a human corps…. Ghoulish is the word for it…

    This poor man has been through ENOUGH….. and I hope he sues the crap out of them…..

    Had they just honored his wishes when his wife died…. he would NOT have a law suit…. So, I don’t think that he is doing this for money….
    he just wants his wife and child to die in PEACE…..

  42. 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.

    Taken from Daily Mail UK….

  43. JAG,

    When you grow up and become more mature, then we can have a discussion. Until then, as my 20 year old daughter says to her co-workers, ‘STAY OUT OF GROWN FOLKS CONVERSATION.’

  44. That document doesn’t go into yet more gruesome details of the decomposition of a brain dead body on life support for that long. Those were the lessor facts.

  45. RWL,
    I don’t think you are getting the message. By this time, rigor mortis has set in the limbs because it is impossible to maintain circulation in the extremities. The tissue is breaking down, and in places will begin to liquify. By now the brain will have almost completely liquified. As the tissue breaks down, the breakdown is being caused by bacteria which gives off gaseous material called cadaverine (pentamethylenediamine) and putrescine (tetramethylenediamine). The stench must be horrendous. Caderverine is a toxic diamine, made up of two amino acids.

    Extraordinary sanitary precautions are necessary, because the area in which this dead woman is decaying is septic.

    You want your child (or anyone else’s) to be incubated in those conditions, on the off chance (odds being close to zero) it might live? I think you have the wrong person identified as immature.

  46. OS,

    Please don’t join the ranks of the ‘less smart individuals.’ We, including me and you, are only speculating about what happen in this case. We don’t have the medical reports of the wife and fetus, and we definitely don’t have the autopsy reports.

    Therefore, please feel free to continue to speculate…….

  47. JAG,
    I can see your comments in the spam filter, but with the new settings I can’t retrieve them for you. That function is now disabled in the new format. I notice they are kind of long with some formatting, which is one of the characteristics of spam. Suggest you write shorter comments and be careful about the formatting. Sometimes it is impossible to tell what triggers the spam filter. Try again by breaking it up into two or three shorter comments.

    And oh yes, HI back to you too.

  48. JAG,
    No one knows the algorithm Askimet uses to trigger the filter. Every blog has this problem. It is frustrating to be able to see the comment that needs rescuing and not be able to get it out of the clutches of Askimet. Try again.

  49. RWL,
    My family has been in the funeral business for well over a century. I have picked up dead bodies in all states of decomposition to take them to the morgue. I have also been on the staff of a half-dozen hospitals, including the Medical Ethics committee.

    Burns and floaters are the worst. As for speculation, I am not at this particular person’s bedside, but have watched people die and have seen the aftermath since I was a kid. My “speculation” is a bit more than just guessing. Spending thirteen years of my life sitting in college classrooms and labs, I think I learned just a few things about the process of decomposition, both theory and first hand observation. I never took the formal course and of course was never licensed, but by the time I was out of high school, I knew how to embalm a body and lost track of the number of autopsies I have seen. When I made those comments, I was not guessing or speculating. Sometimes reality is ugly. Doesn’t make it less true, it is just ugly.

    And oh yes. Regarding that decomposition thing. Been there and done that. When I got part of my foot partly amputated in an accident and they reattached it, interstitial circulation never “took,” and that part of my foot died. Gangrene set in. Once you smell gangrene, you will never forget it….especially when it is your own body rotting.

  50. OS,

    I respect your work experience and educational background, but not more than your personal experience (i.e. your ‘foot incident’). With that, you have my upmost respect (especially being able to release this info to the public).

    Nevertheless, until you and I (and everyone else) has an authentic copies of the medical records and autopsy reports of both mom/wife and fetus, then anything that we ‘hypothesize’, regarding this case, is pure ‘postulation’ (or an educated guess: does that sound better?).

  51. She is not in a coma, nor a persistent vegetative state…. she is brain dead….
    NO, brain function, and without her brain to tell her heart to pump, it can’t pump, so a machine is doing this for her… Though, it is still not the same as
    if she were alive….

  52. I am confident the case is successfully made this woman and her fetus are not going to make it. Ample supporting evidence by medical professionals quoted in various articles and statements by those having much experience and having reviewed these articles it is clear enough to conclude there is no benefit in keeping this poor woman on life support measures. The standard for the courts has never been one of complete certainty in order to make a judgement. Depending on the nature of the legal matter, it is either a preponderance of the evidence, clear cogent and convincing evidence, or proof beyond a reasonable doubt; all of which have been satisfied. We are a nation of laws, that is what is involved in this decision.

  53. Texas pregnant woman Marlise Munoz hospital ordered to stop life support

    January 25, 2014 (FORT WORTH, Texas) — For two months, Erick Munoz has sat inside a North Texas hospital room next to his pregnant, brain-dead wife, with what would be their second child together growing inside her.

    Now a judge has ruled that the hospital must follow Munoz’s wishes and disconnect Marlise Munoz from life support that it’s refused to remove in hopes of saving the fetus inside her.

    The judge’s ruling Friday could give Erick Munoz a long-awaited chance to bury his wife and move forward to care for their son and his relatives. It would also mean the fetus would never be born.

  54. RWL,
    You may not realize it, but your argument broke down at the very beginning when you stated what YOUR wishes would be if you found yourself in similar circumstances. In the present instance, the husband–and father of the fetus–wanted life support turned off. According to reports, she had expressed her wishes in writing to be DNR rather than to be in a persistent vegetative state, He and the rest of her family had agreed.

    It was busybody types in the state legislature, fueled by right wing religious zealotry, that interfered with, and blocked, what should be a private decision between the dead woman and her family. Then they want to decry “government interference” with their personal lives on the campaign stump. Hypocrisy on parade.

  55. RWL, medical records are supposed to be confidential. Forget HIPPA. This woman’s condition is none of any of our business. Do you want records of your medical history/condition released to the public. How did your last prostate exam go? Maybe we can all sit and speculate on what you say about it yourself?

  56. It is purely political. Perry and his tea party cohorts enacted all these anti-chioce laws, and they want them enforced. The laws are now on the books in other states, too, but Texas’s law is among the strictest. The election of the tea party governors and state legislators in 2010 has impacted women’s healthcare very negatively. The tea party candidate in Virginia was defeated in 2013. Hopefully, more will be in 2014 and that includes Texas tea partier, Greg Abbott.

  57. Hi Darren,

    Hi Leejcarrol…. Hey Swarthmoremom…..

    It is great to see you as well… I have missed you all…..

    I am will heavy heart over NAL… It is just so sad after losing Idealist…
    he was a LOVELY man… I will miss him greatly….

  58. JAG, You do know wordpress is a prude and doesn’t like hoochy mama’s don’t you? Stay around, kid. This place is much better w/ you around.

  59. I’m surprised at the number of people trying to imply that the medical evidence that was discussed in court was just hearsay. I would think the family’s attorney came with the medical records in hand. Also HIPAA laws would prevent the hospital from releasing them to anyone but the next if kin or his attorney. Journalists won’t get that info just because they clamor for it. It turns my stomach to read that some in the Texas legislature are trying to keep her on life support still after this ruling.

  60. justagurl,

    I found a number of your comments in SPAM. Unfortunately, I can’t retrieve them for you. I don’t understand why your comments are being targeted for the spam filter. It happened to me a few months ago too.

  61. AY, thanks your linked articles had more info than the ones I saw. I find it chilling that that assistant DA Larry Thompson said the Texas legislature has included laws that consider an unborn alive at every stage of development. So are we to take it laws are moving down the Texas pike to give personhood to a zygote?

  62. JAG,
    I don’t know why Askimet likes you so much it is keeping your comments for itself. :???: BTW, You may also find some familiar faces over on Gene’s new blog, Flowers For Socrates. I am in the process of setting up a business page and forensic science blog as well.

  63. Thank you so much OS… I am VERY excited to see your forensic science blog…. That is an area where I have a tremendous interest….
    I very much look forward to this.
    and yes, it seems that Askime… or what ever it is called sure loves my to keep my posts for itself…. :-D
    I wrote a message to them on their twitter page… I hope they get back to me….
    I love how they keep a running count of how much “spam” they are catching…
    Until you realize, it is NOT spam at all…. :-\
    It is REAL people trying to post….

    I will also check out Gene’s new blog….

    Hi Rafflaw….. It is lovely to see you…. :-)

    Elaine, I too love the Monty Python video….

  64. justagurl,

    Several of my comments were gobbled up today too. It’s not just your posts. WordPress can be temperamental at times.

  65. OS,

    As of January 26, 2014, (and according to Mike A’s article) there is no legal, binding document expressing the wishes of the wife regarding death and life decisions (maybe a life insurance policy: the reason why the husband wants this over with so quickly?). So, your statement, beginning with ‘According to reports…..’ is meaningless. My argument or point of view/speculation still stands.


    Please feel free to join the ranks of the ‘ignoramus(es)’. Anyone with at least a BA knows that I wasn’t asking to view this woman/wife/mom’s and fetus’ medical and/or autopsy reports.

    Please feel free to scroll back up, and review the notes to comprehend what I said: how we are all speculating about this case, including the woman and fetus’ body and the husband’s desires, without their medical and/or autopsy reports OR the few questions and concerns that I (and a few other bloggers) have mentioned about the husband and how much money-via medical malpractice, life insurance, etc.-is involved (which could be very interesting to this case).

    I also stated that most of the bloggers assertions are pure speculation (I upgraded OS’s assertions of speculation to postulation-fancy term for educated guess); however, some of our bloggers are assuming that their assertions are not speculation, even though (and here’s the point) they haven’t SEEN THE MED & AUT REPORTS,; OUR BLOGGERS DON’T KNOW IF THERE IS A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE SUIT UNDERWAY; THEY DON’T KNOW IF OR HOW MUCH LIFE INSURANCE POLICY IS INVOLVED; AND OUR BLOGGERS CONTINUE TO SPECULATE EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO LEGAL DOCUMENT EXPRESSING MOM/WIFE’S DEATH OR LIFE WISHES FOR THIS SCENARIO.

    But don’t mind me, feel free to continue to speculate…….

  66. RWL, I have a B.A. from a well respected university but you don’t need to go to college to know how to respond civilly to people. You talked about the speculation, we don’t have the notes, etc. Yes, because there is a thing called HIPPA so no one outside of the family doctors, hospital, and lawyers have or should have access to them. he only way this discussion can go forward is by speculation. But go ahead speculate all you want as to who someone is, what their background is, and what civility looks like.

  67. When discussing an article or case that is ongoing, the ONLY thing we can do is go by what is being said in the press.
    Of course we don’t know the HARD FACTS, this is true with any and EVERY article… If we were to only comment on cases and articles where we have the HARD facts, we would NEVER discuss any article or case.
    Comment sections would be rendered useless.

    As is stated in MANY articles, this man’s wife is NOT in a coma,
    she is DEAD. She is not going to recover from being dead she was DEAD when they put her on the respirator…. so I can understand why he would want this to end.

    He is grieving for his wife and unborn child, and his grieving is being made worse by this whole
    science experiment gone horribly wrong. This man deserves to start the grieving process that has been put on hold, and be able to say good bye to his wife, the way he should have been able to 2 months ago.

    This has been on going for 2 months now…. he has a young child to care for,
    and a job he must go to day after day to provide for his son.
    This is not hurrying things along.
    Making a widow wait 2 months to grieve is CRUEL!!!
    This should NEVER had happened.

  68. I forgot to add: Here’s one more crucial fact (and I am surprise that OS and Mike A-in his article-didn’t mention this): THEY STILL DO NOT KNOW THE CAUSE OF DEATH OF THE WIFE/MOM. THEY WON’T KNOW, WITH 99.99999% ACCURACY, UNTIL AN AUTOPSY IS PERFORM.

    In other words, did the stroke kill the woman or did the hospital? Or both? or Neither?

  69. 2 of the authors of the Texas legislation also commented on this..
    They have both said the hospital was not following the law, as she was NO LONGER a patient once she was dead.
    she is legally dead…..

    also the parents of this poor woman are also wanting this to end.
    Do you think they are happy for their daughter to be dead???
    Do you suspect that they also have a life insurance policy????
    That is just uncalled for. This man has suffered enough.
    Assuming this man wants his wife dead so he can collect life insurance is
    just so cold and cruel…

    Had this happened in any other state, this man would have been able to bury
    his wife after she died on Nov. 28th… Instead because of ill guided people who have an agenda along with some reading comprehension issues, this has turned into something so sad and disgusting, and beyond anything I could have thought possible.

    This man did not kill his wife. Her parents did not kill her, she died of natural causes 2 months ago.
    She is NOT on life support. she has been on DEATH support.
    and this is not what these machines were intended for.

  70. By the way…. maybe most young people do not have the end of life conversation with their spouse… However, both Marlise Munoz and her husband were paramedics…. This is a conversation that MOST people who are in this line of work do have.

    The husband and the parents all knew that HER WISHES were that she not be kept on a respirator…..

    This man knew what his wife wanted… and her parents knew what she wanted…. She most likely did not have a living will/ advance directive because she was so young and didn’t think she would die in this manner.

    Heck, I am 47, and I don’t have one, Though, I have made it VERY clear to my family members, that I do not wish to be put on a ventilator should something like this happen.

  71. Erick Munoz described visiting his wife in the hospital, saying her eyes were now glassy and the smell of her perfume had given way to a smell he knew to be of a dead body. His attorneys told Wallace on Friday that doctors had performed medical care on her body over his protests

  72. Attorneys: Fetus of pregnant, brain-dead wife is ‘distinctly abnormal’
    By Dana Ford, CNN
    Thu January 23, 2014

    (CNN) — Attorneys representing the family of Marlise Munoz — a pregnant Texas woman they say is brain dead — revealed Wednesday that the “fetus is distinctly abnormal.”

    “Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined. The fetus suffers from hydrocephalus. It also appears that there are further abnormalities, including a possible heart problem, that cannot be specifically determined due to the immobile nature of Mrs. Munoz’s deceased body.

    “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,” attorneys Jessica Janicek and Heather King said in a statement.

  73. To put it bluntly. How much more decomposition and necrosis will be required before outsiders leave this woman’s corpse alone? As insensitive as this question might seem that is what the situation has become. And justagirlinseattle has it right. “Death support” and the husband’s last memory of the huspand’s beloved wife being the smell of decay.

    I hope the hospital is satisfied.

  74. If nothing else is learned from this case, it is that every person should have a living will and durable power of attorney in place. An airtight one that will cross state lines, if necessary. Most of these documents are state specific by referencing a specific statue, but it should be possible, legally, to create one that will be accepted anywhere.

    Want to go the extra mile. Video yourself reading your living will and durable power of attorney. Your own voice and own words will have a psychological effect on any trier of fact should it be contested.

  75. RWL,

    I does not matter one whit what the cause of death was. She could have had a stroke, a heart attack, or any number of things. Cause is not the issue. The issue here is that when a person has zero brain activity, their pupils are blown, no respiration , no heart activity without outside stimulation, and no pain reflex, they are dead. Dead as if they had been shot through the heart, electrocuted or blown up by an IED. Dead is dead.

    JAG and Annie have it right.

  76. I could not agree more OS, I have seen too many families wracked in emotion
    decide that even though their loved ones wishes were DNR, The family just could NOT let go…..

    and exactly right OS… It doesn’t matter how she died… she was dead when she got to the hospital…. and she was most certainly dead 2 days later.. on Nov. 28th…..

    I would assume that after being on so many drugs and such keeping her body “in a life like state”
    there is not much chance of them finding EXACTLY what the cause of death was….. NOT to mention the decomposition of the body could also make it a bit difficult….

    Darren, we are not the ones being insensitive,… It is the
    anti-choice- anti science crowd who have done the damage….

    The truth is ugly… BUT, maybe instead of watching TV shows where people
    receive CPR and walk out of the hospital a day later as if nothing happened….
    We need to start being HONEST about what it means to be brain dead in this day and age…..

  77. JAG

    I know what you are saying about the expectations created by TV and CPR. Without paramedics and proper equipment it is a last ditch effort, absolutely better than doing nothing, but not always certain.

    A couple of things I have noticed with working the road and getting dispatched to heart attack calls where the patient is unable to be saved it is often a good idea to take some form of CPR or other measures for the benefit of the family. While this might sound odd it can provide a some cushion to the family that something was done to help out their loved one and they weren’t just allowed to die. I had one call where the wife woke up to find her elderly husband unresponsive. When I arrived it was obvious he had been dead for some time and was not revivable. But she was distressed and kept telling me to help him as she led me into the bedroom. I did CPR on him for only one reason, to give her a small measure of of consolation that we cared about her husband and everything was done to save him. And, it wasn’t the only time I had to do this.

    Another practice I held to was if a heart attack call was at a residence and the paramedics arrived we asked the family to clear out of the room because they meant well but tended to get in the way. If the paramedics pronounced the patient dead I would then walk out to the family and inform them what happened. After I had talked with them and it became time to remove the deceased to the ambulance I would tell the family something to the effect of “We are going to bring him out in three minutes, if you have family business to discuss in private I understand.” This allowed for the family to choose how to address their deceased loved one being taken out. It told them when the body was going to be wheeled out if they wanted to watch and if they did not want to watch, which was usually the case, it provided them with a “face saving” way to remove themselves to another room and not have to witness this under the auspices of discussing family business. And it removes the guilt or perceived expectation that they must be present to prove to others they care.

    Sometimes, as these hospital administrators and certainly those wanting to use this incident for political gain become more removed from thinking about the emotion and concerns of the family they can be quite calloused in putting policy above people’s emotional needs.

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