Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Brain Dead and Pregnant in Texas


When a Texas hospital continued ventilator support for a pregnant patient who met the neurological criteria for the determination of death, it acted against the wishes of the patient's husband and other family members. The hospital stated that its treatment decision was required under the Texas Advance Directives Act, in particular the "pregnancy exclusion" that instructs providers to continue life-sustaining treatment as long as the patient is pregnant, notwithstanding contrary instructions in the patient's living will or from the patient's surrogate decision-maker. Contrary to the hospital's stated position, however, neither the literal words of the pregnancy exclusion nor the Advance Directives Act read as a whole requires continued ventilator support once a pregnant patient is determined to be brain dead.

Publication Title

American Journal of Bioethics

Document Type



brain death, living will, pregnancy, surrogate decision-maker



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)