A pregnant woman from Victoria, B.C. who was declared “brain dead” was put on life support until the birth of her baby. In December, 32-year-old Robyn Benson suffered a massive, irreversible brain hemorrhage while 22 weeks pregnant with her first child. Dylan Benson, who had married her last July after dating for 16 years, made the choice to keep her on a ventilator until the baby (named Iver Cohen Benson by the father) could be delivered by caesarian section. Iver was born healthy on Feb. 8.
“The thought process behind this is that if they can keep her body alive and growing our child until she is 26 weeks pregnant, it will give our unborn son a 60 to 80 per cent chance of surviving a C-section at that time,” wrote Benson on his blog about his decision. He states that he is receiving support from his friends and his wife’s family, and that everyone thinks that Robyn “would want me to try and give our child the best life possible.”
Benson explained: “On one hand I can’t wait to meet my son and try and give him the best life possible and try my hardest to be a great dad for him, on the other hand I know that the day or the day after he is born will be the day that I have to say goodbye to Robyn.”
A fundraising campaign on YouCaring.com to support the baby and the father during his leave from work was started with the goal of raising $36,000. More than $150,000 has been raised and Dylan Benson announced he will be able to set aside some of the money towards Iver’s education.
Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes said in a press release, “the response of people to the plight of the father and son is an honest and beautiful human reaction to help save the baby’s life in the womb and provide in some small way for their future without a wife and mother.”
Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer for CLC, said that ultrasound technology is a “window into the womb” and through it we can see “that a human being exists from the time of conception and deserves our protection.”
The story about baby Iver broke just a week after the death of Marlise Munoz and her 22-week-old unborn child on Jan. 27 after Texas judge R.H. Wallace Jr. ordered that the “brain dead” mother be taken off the ventilator. The husband, Erick Munoz, had fought to withdraw life support, arguing that his wife, who did not leave any written directives, did not want to be kept alive and that the baby was “distinctly abnormal” (the child had hydrocephalus, or fluid on the brain).
For nearly two months, the John Peter Smith Hospital in Forth Worth, Texas, disagreed with Munoz’s family that she was “brain dead” and refused the husband’s wishes to end life-support for Marlise.
The Texas Advanced Directives Act states that “a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment … from a pregnant patient,” but the husband challenged the application of the law questioning whether it applied to a “brain dead” patient.
On Jan 24. Judge Wallace ordered the hospital to take the pregnant woman off life support and the hospital did not appeal his decision.
Wesley Smith, however, asked on his blog for National Review Online whether Robyn Benson’s situation could also be deemed “undignified” by the same people who wanted Munoz off life support. “Or, is gestation in this case acceptable because of the continuing development of this unborn child?” he wondered. Smith continued: “Or, is it the fact that the child is wanted by his father that makes the moral difference?”