Evolution may favor religious diversity, but the tail does not wag the fish.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Labor of Birth

Woman kept alive in hopes of saving baby: [USA TODAY]

ARLINGTON, Va. - A 26-year-old pregnant woman with cancer whose brain function ceased last month is being kept alive with a respirator in hopes she can have a very premature baby who has a chance to survive.

In what has been characterized by some as a reverse Terri Schiavo case, Jason Torres, a devout Catholic from Arlington, VA has kept Susan, his brain dead wife, on life-support. She was 17 weeks pregnant at the time and collapsed suddenly due to cancer. Twenty-four weeks is the earliest point that doctors give a baby a reasonable chance of survival outside the womb. But every passing day in this case also risked cancer spreading to the baby.

Unlike the Schiavo case, relations between Mr. Torres and Susan's parents are amicable. They've sat bedside with Mr. Torres, including his most recent Father's Day with his first son, Pete.

The Susan M. Torres Fund was created to accept donations to help Mr. Torres cover the increased medical expenses from this ordeal. A flash interview with Mr. Torres is also available.

I have followed this story for my own reasons of interest and am happy to report from AP News, that in additon to knowing that the National Zoo has a new Panda Boy, Susan Ann Catherine Torres entered the world at 8:18 am this past Tuesday morning. Her mother gave birth to a girl measuring 13 1/2 inches and weighing one pound 13 ounces. This places the birth at roughly 27 weeks.

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Anonymous Harrison said...

Well, that's a fine story and I'm glad it has a happy ending.

I don't agree that this a "reverse Terry Schiavo" case. And I understand that this is not necessarily your characterization. For one thing, I'm glad that this story stayed out of the increasingly tiresome "culture war". For another, the most salient point of the Schiavo case (for me, anyways) was the involvement of government at both the State and Federal levels. I don't have a static position on right-to-die or euthanasia or right-to-life situations such as this, or at least none that I feel should be applied to everyone.

August 03, 2005 12:19 PM

Blogger J A Y @ C I A said...

To be clear, I also do not view this as a reverse Terry Schiavo case. Her case brought not only an over involvement of government, but it did so at the behest of some off balance religious thinking as well.
Aside from my own personal emotions related to the Torres case, I was impressed by what seemed to be a sensible Catholic approach and the support he was receiving from his parish. I too am glad that this wasn't hyped by the "culture wars", but I was also silently amazed that it wasn't mentioned respectfully as perhaps a better balanced and sensible approach from which we as a nation might draw better insight after our appalling behavior in the previous case.

August 03, 2005 1:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One other thing...
Happy Endings? Not so fast.
Mr. Torres, who doubtless has been grieving all this time, still has to bury his wife.

August 03, 2005 1:25 PM

Anonymous leenie said...

Indeed, a very bittersweet ending.

While I agree that perhaps this was a less hysterical and less religiously convoluted process and outcome than the Shiavo case, I'm not sure what lesson religious people should should take from it as far as how to act or not act. This was a case in which all parties were (presumably) in agreement about what to do, and they chose a course of action that the Religious Right would have liked anyway. So Jay, what do you take from this as the moral of the story for the rest of us?

Now the panda story...THAT'S happy!

August 03, 2005 2:17 PM

Anonymous Jay said...

I think the reason this never got overblown wasn't just because Mr. Torres and Susan's family were in agreement. They were also very up front that she was already dead.
The entire hospital scene was a process of bringing the child to term under those rather macabre and daunting circumstances. Not as a consolation prize, but simply as a naturally related event.
It's not a moral so much as a reminder of how things are in the real world freed of the presuppositions of how they are supposed to be.
Hospitals are not the best defense against the funeral home. Neither religious belief nor scientific developments trump mortality. The state may protect but it cannot ultimately overstep the limited means we have to be in control of life.
Any way, I was also simply thinking there's only two other ways similar situations in January could have been worse.

August 03, 2005 2:53 PM


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