Pulling the Plug

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Pulling the Plug
36
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 2:34pm
Hypothetical situation:

A woman delivers a baby premature. It is very early to have the child, and its amazing that it can stay alive, even being hooked up to all sorts of equiptment. There's no way it can survive on its own. The mother decides that she is not emotionally or financially able to care for her child considering some of the complications it may have. If she pulls the plug on the equiptment, and the baby dies, is this considered murder?

LernersPetite

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 4:56pm

Unfortunately she should have been able to make that decision prior to trhe resuscitation.


When my oldest son was dying, he had sepsis, DIC, was artifically ventilated, fever over 107F. After resucitating him with epinephrine repeatedly (via injection into the muscle of his heart) and each time his heart would fail again, the PICU Trauma Head came out & asked us if we wanted them to continue to revive his heart. We declined as it was quite probable that his brain had been irreparably damaged moreso than it had been before the infection. He was bleeding out of just about everywhere he could. The ventilator could not be turned off until his heart stopped beating on its own.


So, to sum it up, there are pretty defined rules about what you can do, not do. I know with a preemie over a certain age or weight, the team is compelled to use heroic measures whether the parents want it or not. So legally, if the mother pulls the plug, she is considered to have committed murder.

Avatar for myshkamouse
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 5:37pm
Once a fetus enters the world, if its alive, its viable. As a viable being, it has rights. If she wanted to have an abortion, that window of opportunity has passed so of course, it would be illegal for her to "pull the plug" on her preemie. What an absurd question really!
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-05-2003
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 6:04pm
This is a bizarre question kind of a no brainer...if she
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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2003
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 6:10pm
Absurd to you, but over on the PP board, one of the most dyed-in-the-wool pro-choicers argues over and over that preemies born before a certain week of gestation (she set it at 28 which is apparently different than prevailing medical practice) should not be resuscitated, let alone put on life support.
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-05-2003
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 6:21pm
I read your post wrong...
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Avatar for myshkamouse
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 6:22pm
Well it takes all kinds. That's truly absurd thinking but one nut ball doesnt an entire movement make...good thing too or the PLrs would *all* be painted with the gun toting, bomb throwing brush!

Fortunately, anyone with a little sense knows that such extremists are the exception, not the rule in most any movement.

MM

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2003
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 6:28pm
Well, that's the entire meat of the argument over there: she feels that simply by being born at a certain gestational age and having a stoppage of heart function, the baby can be classified as hopeless or at least running the risk of incurring negative unworthy-of-life sequelae to the resuscitation (or maybe it's to the prematurity itself) while her opponents argue that many preemies have been resuscitated only to go on and lead hale and hardy lives (some posters even testified to having gone through that experience THEMSELVES at birth).

But that's another argument for another board, as you like to point out. It's not my job to condense other arguments between other posters in other threads (on other boards, at that!) and I don't really have the energy to do it, anyway, beyond what I've already relayed.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 10:02pm
Thanks for the responses everyone.

Maybe I phrased my question the wrong way. Lets put aside the law. Disregarding what is considered lawful and unlawful, would you feel it is wrong for a woman to pull the plug on her premature baby because the child may suffer through out its life, and the mother doesn't feel able to tend to its many needs and complications?

Basically, what I'm trying to find out here is if any of you guys feel that there is ever a small window of *choice* for the mother right after the birth (particularly when there are complications or the baby is premature) where she can decide whether the baby lives or dies.

LernersPetite

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-13-2003
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 10:32pm


Absolutely, but then I feel it's wrong to terminate a pregnancy for those same reasons.



Unequivocally not. For one thing, there is no way to know whether a premature baby's problems will be mild, moderate, severe or non-existent. Some babies who seem like they will never recover make 100% turnarounds. Secondly,if the mother feel she can't handle a child with a disability, she shouldn't be having children. Not all disabilities are detectable in the womb or immediately after a baby's birth. Does she have the right to decide later on if her child acquires a disability that she is not equipped to handle it?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-09-2003
Thu, 11-13-2003 - 10:32pm
Actually, there is a professor at Princeton (I believe) that has published articles promoting this very idea. I'll have to find the links, but I'll post them when I do. He basically said that a parent should have up to 30 days to have an infant (put to sleep?)if complications arose from the birth- causing disabilities, or the disabilities weren't detected in-utero, or actually if the parent doesn't like the child's disposition. Has anyone read "THE GIVER"? This was something practiced in this futuristic novel. My 11 year old niece suggested the book to me because it was her "favorite"- I found it really disturbing! Anyway, I'll look for the link, Peter Singer rings a bell.

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