SLATE: A Horrifying Ethical Dilemma


“Last month, a 29-year-old woman who’s been in a persistent vegetative state since she was a toddler went into labor and gave birth. An employee of the Arizona health care facility where she’s resided for more than 26 years swears no one had any idea she was pregnant until she started exhibiting signs of physical distress during labor. After testing the DNA of the newborn and male employees at the Hacienda HealthCare facility, law enforcement officials arrested nurse Nathan Sutherland, 36, on counts of sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse on Wednesday morning”

Health law professor George Annas concurred with the idea that Kathy was being used as a vessel “for the sake of other people”—namely, her parents. In a story published in the Los Angeles Times, he called Kathy an “incubator” and raised the hypothetical scenario of parents wanting to artificially inseminate their vegetative child. “Would you say it’s the family’s prerogative?” Annas asked. “I think most people would be horrified at that notion.”

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