Although a 33-year-old Texas woman was pronounced brain-dead after collapsing in her kitchen last November, her family has been unable to say good-bye. Not because they are not ready to let her go, however, but because of a state mandate that automatically invalidates a woman’s advance directive when a pregnancy is involved.
The woman, who was found by her husband after she collapsed from a blood clot in her lung, remains on life support in the intensive care unit at John Peter Smith Hospital. Hospital staff continue to monitor the heartbeat of her fetus, which is now in its 20th week of development.
While all 50 states recognize advance directives, some states such as Texas have statutes in place that override a living will if a pregnancy is involved. Since the woman was 14 weeks into her pregnancy at the time of the incident, it is now up to the doctors to determine whether they believe she can still carry her unborn fetus to term.
As her husband and parents continue to prepare for the loss of a loved one, some in the community remain critical of the hospital’s decision to keep the woman on life support. They are quick to point out that since the fetus has not yet reached the point where it is viable outside the womb, under normal circumstance she would still have the constitutional right to have an abortion.
Meanwhile, the family hopes the law will be overturned. They have for the moment, however, chosen to not take any legal action against the hospital, but state that they have also not ruled it out.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be difficult under any circumstance. A Texas attorney can make the process easier by helping to establish a living will and health care proxy to fit each individual person’s needs.
Source:Huffington Post Politics, “Here’s Where Your Living Will Can Be Ignored When You’re A Pregnant Woman” Alissa Sheller, Katy Hall, Jan. 08, 2014