09 January 2014
Rules for playing God vary by state
In California we've seen a family fight to keep a hospital from taking their brain-dead daughter off life support. Now, in Texas, we learn of a family fighting to have a brain-dead woman taken off life support. The mother and husband of the woman in question say that it was her wish not to be kept on life support should the worst happen -- and since she was a paramedic we can presume she spoke from some understanding of the situation. However, this case is less a war of wills between a family and a hospital than a fight between the family and the government. Texas is one of 12 states in this country that require pregnant women to be kept on life-support so that fetuses may be brought to term. I can understand the thought behind the law: the baby should have a chance at life. At the same time, there's something ghoulish about the idea of a woman reduced to an organic incubator -- if "organic" is the right term to describe a woman in this unfortunate's condition. The idea inspires rather dystopian thoughts for the future, however well-intentioned the law may have seemed. I don't know if either the hospital or the state of Texas has yet been accused of "playing God" in this case, but the tag is probably just as justified as it is in the California case. Both cases raise questions about what "life" really means to us, as individuals and as a nation, and it probably would make sense if we could set a single national standard for such cases. But don't hold your breath waiting -- or else you might also end up brain-dead, and then what do we do?