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Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman Taken Off Life Support

Marlise Munoz was found unconscious last November 26th, possibly due to a blood clot. Further investigation showed that she was brain-dead, and the family requested that she be removed from life support. The Texas hospital refused to take her off life support because she was pregnant.

Hospital officials stated that they were bound by the Texas Advance Directives Act, which prohibits withdrawal of life support from a pregnant patient.

This weekend, however, 96th District Court judge R.H. Wallace said that "Mrs. Munoz is dead," meaning that the hospital was misapplying the law, allowing the family to remove life-support.

"Today, at approximately 11:30 a.m. central time, in accordance with the order of the 96th District Court of Tarrant County, Texas, issued Friday, January 24, 2014, Marlise Munoz’s body was disconnected from 'life support' and released to Mr. Munoz," Heather L. King and Jessica H. Janicek, Munoz's attorneys, said in a statement emailed to the press. "The Munoz and Machado families will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Munoz’s body to rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered. May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey."

SF authors are not obligated to observe societal rules (or social norms) in creating their fictional works, and science fiction great Frank Herbert is no exception. In his extremely creepy 1972 book Hellstrom's Hive, Herbert introduces the idea of a "procreative stump", which is essentially the torso of a woman kept alive by artificial means:

When one of the youngsters asked if they would take the carcass to the vats or try for a procreative stump, he paused for only the briefest reflection before agreeing that they should try for a stump. Perhaps some of that female flesh could be revived and preserved. If her womb could be maintained, she might yet serve the Hive. It would be interesting to see a child of that flesh.
(Read more about Frank Herbert's procreative stump)

For those who were wondering how the fetus would fare if life support had been continued, I asked a friend who is a board-certified OB/GYN as well as a specialist in reproductive medicine. He said that if a 14 week-old fetus were gestated in this manner, it would almost certainly either die or be born severely retarded, this having been the result in other similar cases.

Via CBS News.

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