Although thinking about your own death is never easy, making your end-of-life wishes explicit is really valuable, even if you’re young and healthy. Not only does a living will let you specify what kind of life-saving measures you would and wouldn’t want, it also takes the burden of having to make that decision off of your loved ones. The only problem? If you’re pregnant, your wishes may actually be ignored entirely: an Idaho law forces families to keep pregnant women on life support regardless of what they’ve indicated on their advance directives, according to Slate, and while at first that may seem like a useful loophole acknowledging that a woman might feel differently about her end-of-life wishes if she’s pregnant, the reality actually seems to be quite different. That’s because instead of protecting the rights of pregnant women to make the decision that feels best for them, the law appears to primarily function to take away their decision-making power all together.
To be fair, pregnancy isn’t exactly a time when anyone wants to think about ending up on life-support, and in most cases, women who choose to remain pregnant do so hoping that they and their babies will go on to be healthy, safe, and happy. Unfortunately though, that isn’t always the case. And when something tragic occurs, there isn’t just one outcome that would be best in all scenarios.
For some women, the answer is that they would want to be kept on life support no matter what in order to give their baby a chance to be born healthy, while for others, the situation is more nuanced. Remaining on life-support indefinitely may not feel like the right choice to a woman who is very early on in her pregnancy, for example, nor may it be the right decision to a woman whose baby is unlikely to actually survive. In any case, it seems like that should obviously come down to the woman herself, taking into consideration her own personal beliefs and wishes, as well as the implications that each option may have on her child, partner or loved ones. After all, even a full-term, healthy child, would still need to be raised and nurtured in their mother’s absence: getting the baby to delivery is only the beginning.
It’s the kind of intensely complicated and emotional situation no one hopes to…
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