On the way home from her ob-gyn appointment with her husband Jack, 29-year-old Janet jubilantly texted her parents “Guess what?! We’re pregnant!!! ” Then tragedy struck. Another driver, elderly and distracted by an incoming text message, ran a red light and T-boned Janet and Jack’s Mini-Cooper. Jack died; Janet survived, although with a traumatic brain injury from which it is unlikely she will recover.
Previously, Janet had completed a healthcare treatment directive, including a clear, handwritten statement, “I do NOT want my life to be extended by means of medically assisted nutrition and hydration, ventilator, or other life support in the event of anything like PVS, from which I am not apt to recover.”
Janet’s parents made the decision to stop everything except palliative care and planned to transfer Janet to a hospice unit in another part of the hospital when a resident physician learns that in the State of Kansas, a woman’s healthcare directive about “withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures in a terminal condition” may not legally be in effect while pregnant.
What should be done now for Janet and her parents?