Bioethics Blogs

Brain Death: Legal Fiction Used to Justify Ending Lives Prematurely – Another California Lawsuit

Brain death is a legal fiction used to justify ending lives prematurely. That is how the family of Israel Stinson frames its argument in a new brief filed in a California federal court, last week.

Israel Stinson’s family is challenging the constitutionality of the California Uniform Determination of Death Act (CUDDA). Contrast the claims made by the family of Jahi McMath. They contend only that Jahi does not (as a matter of fact) satisfy the CUDDA standards. They do not attack the (legal) validity of the standards themselves.

The Stinson family argues that “the biological basis for brain death is hotly disputed and central to this case.”  They allege that Israel remained alive AFTER an official death certificate was issued. They describe brain death as a “haphazard, uneven, and utilitarian-driven rush to declare patients dead, ignoring that possibility they might be alive.”

The State of California filed a motion to dismiss the family’s Third Amended Complaint on jurisdictional grounds. The hearing is scheduled for August 11.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.