Sustaining a pregnant cadaver for the purpose of gestating a fetus: A limited defense

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5 Scopus citations


I argue that there are times it is morally permissible to keep a brain-dead pregnant woman on life support for the sole purpose of allowing her fetus to gestate until it is able to be born as healthy as possible. While a woman should not be kept on such support if she has clearly expressed that this would contradict her wishes, she may be kept on such support if she did not make her wishes known at all. Moreover, there are reasons why her family’s wishes alone may not suffice to override the fetus’ interest in continued existence. The most difficult case to assess is when the woman had previously made it known she would not want to be sustained on artificial life support, but was not explicit concerning whether she would maintain that stance in the event of her pregancy. Finally, I will show why my position is compatible with a pro-abortion-choice perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-430
Number of pages32
JournalKennedy Institute of Ethics journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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