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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Brain-Dead Woman in Va. Gives Birth

Washington Post:

A cancer-ravaged woman robbed of consciousness by a stroke has given birth after being kept on life support for three months to give her fetus extra time to develop. Susan Torres, whose plight has attracted support from around the world, gave birth to a daughter Tuesday by Caesarean section. The delivery went smoothly and the baby 'is doing well,' her brother-in-law, Justin Torres, wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. Susan Anne Catherine Torres weighs 1 pound, 13 ounces and is 13 1/2 inches long, he said. Torres, a 26-year-old researcher at the National Institutes of Health, lost consciousness from a stroke May 7 after aggressive melanoma spread to her brain. Her husband, Jason Torres, said doctors told him his wife's brain functions had stopped. The infant is being monitored in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, about 100 miles north of Richmond. A hospital spokeswoman would not comment on whether Susan Torres' life support was still in place. Jason Torres quit his job to be by his wife's side, spending each night sleeping in a reclining chair next to her bed. Last month, the fetus passed the 24th week of development _ the earliest point at which doctors felt the baby would have a reasonable chance to survive, the brother-in-law said.
Hopefully the child will be healthy. This story presents an interesting philosophical conundrum for some of those who strongly supported the termination of Terry Schiavo and who also support abortion on demand (the two positions are often held together.) Theoretically, they should be opposed to having kept Torres alive to allow the child to be born as a fetus is a not person and Torres has certainly been brain dead. I don't think anyone wants to take that position of course, but it does serve as a reminder that these issues are not black and white. I supported Michael Schiavo's decision, in that I felt it was his decision to make and none of our business, but I did feel that some of the lusting for her death by those that strongly felt she needed to die was extremely unseemly (The demonization of Michael by many of the Christian Right was equally unseemly.)


Blogger honestpartisan said...

I disagree with your proposition that support for "abortion on demand" compels a conclusion that this baby should have been aborted because "the fetus is not a person." I can't speak for everyone who favors legal abortion, but my view (which is pretty widespread among people who favor legal abortion) is that it is the choice of the pregnant woman up through viability.

A woman who is brain-dead has no capacity to make a choice about whether to have an abortion or to carry the pregnancy to term. As in the Terry Schiavo case, if someone doesn't have capacity, then the decision passes either to a person designated in a living will or to a family member given such authority by operation of state statute. With married people, this is pretty much always going to be the spouse.

In this case, I didn't see any indication that either the woman or her husband wanted an abortion. Therefore, support for "abortion on demand" does not militate your conclusion that the fetus should be aborted. We do call ourselves the "pro-choice" side, after all.

8/03/2005 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I certainly did not mean to imply that anyone who supports abortion believes (or should believe) that she should not have been kept alive for this.

The focus was those people who seemed to feel in the Schiave matter not that the husband should choose what to do, but that there was a moral necessity due to quality of life issues or whatever to remove Terri Schiavo from her feeding tube. There was a group, probably a small (although loud) minority of people who felt this way, and from what I read they seemed to also hold fairly extreme abortion on demand views.

If you hold the view that Schiavo DEFINATELY should have had her feeding tube removed, and that a fetus is unimportant, etc. than it seems inescapable that this woman should not have been kept alive to have a baby. The presence of a fetus should theoretically not change the base concept that brain dead people should not be kept alive.

8/03/2005 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Katinula said...

I think the difference in this case is that Michael Schiavo was ostensibly trying to do what Terri wanted in a case like this. In being her husband, that was his right. The husband of the brain dead woman who gave birth was ostensibly trying to do what his wife wanted, which was to have this baby, after which he could follow through on any other wishes she might have communicated to him. The people who wanted Schiavo to be taken off life support for a quality of life reason ALONE don't have much of an arguement. The arguement is what Terri would have wanted, how she felt about her own quality of life. With her not around, trust had to be placed in her husbands hands to know her wishes.
Either way, the story of the baby is inspiring and hopefully will bring comfort to the husband.

8/03/2005 11:41:00 AM  

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