Case of "Brain-Dead" Mom Raises Many Questions, States Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

TUCSON, Ariz., Jan. 16, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The battle between the state of Texas and the family of Marlise Machado Muñoz about discontinuing life support to a "brain dead" pregnant woman raises profound questions, states the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

"What constitutes brain death?" asks executive director Jane M. Orient, M.D. If the brain is truly without a blood supply and is dead and decomposing, life cannot be sustained long by any means. Some say two days is the maximum. But the patient has been on life support since Nov 26, Dr. Orient notes. She apparently is maintaining her body temperature and other functions needed to support her pregnancy.

"Who has the right to consent to the equivalent of an abortion?" Orient asks. "The mother cannot consent now, and she did not decide to abort before she suffered her embolus. Moreover, by now the fetus is more than 20 weeks old, past the point when abortion is legal in Texas."

"Does anyone have the right to make an advance directive for another person?" Orient asked. "The fetus is considered a person in that if someone causes its death by assaulting its mother, that person is guilty of murder."

"If its life support system (the womb) may lawfully be terminated before birth, what is the situation of a baby born prematurely, who is on life support in the NICU, if its mother becomes brain dead soon after birth?" Orient continues. "Does the mother's advance directive apply to her newborn?"

"These are complex questions," Orient concludes, "with implications far beyond one family."

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), founded in 1943, is a national association dedicated to preserving the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship.

CONTACT: Jane M. Orient, M.D., 520-323-3110, janeorientmd@gmail.comSource:Association of American Physicians & Surgeons