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Medical Ethics Without the Rhetoric: Case Five, Life After Life


A woman who was considered perfectly healthy at the time she became pregnant is found to have terminal cancer early in her pregnancy. While there is little chance of the cancer being transferred to the fetus, there is also little chance of the mother surviving long enough for a viable delivery. The women and her husband request that her body functions be maintained, even after she is legally dead, until the baby can be safely delivered. Her physician advises that this is a reasonable although not certainly successful course of action. The issue? According to the hospital where she is receiving treatment,, the cost of maintaining her bodily functions would exceed $500,000. Needless to say, a dead patient has no health insurance, and the couple does not have the money. What should be done by the various parties to this case?