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​The Grass Is Only Somewhat Greener

The story of a brain-dead pregnant B.C. woman creates a ripe for comparison between Canada and the U.S.


Most of us followed the case of Texas' Marlise Munoz who was on life support after suffering from what was likely a blot clot. She was 14 weeks pregnant. Despite her wishes to be let go in such circumstances, a state law kept Ms. Munoz on life support to prevent the death of the fetus she was carrying. Neither her husband nor her family wanted to continue with her on life support but it wasn't until a district judge allowed the declaration of Munoz's death that she was able to see her end of life wishes granted.

In the last says of 2013, 5-months-pregnant Robyn Benson asked her husband to go to out get some Tylenol for a headache she had. When he returned, she was slumped in the bathroom and was declared brain-dead at the hospital when she arrived. Canada hasn't drawn any lines in the sand about when a fetus is 'alive' – there is no time after which a woman in Canada can't get an abortion. Robyn's husband, Dylan, and her family have decided to keep Robyn on life support until the fetus is 34 weeks and in better shape to be delivered via c-section. Dylan Benson has been blogging about his experience and has even started a fund for his yet-to-be-born son, to be named Iver.

While geographically close, it goes without saying that Canada and the United State's policy on almost everything is worlds apart. While very real and crucial laws are being enacted in regions across the U.S., anti-choice rumblings in Canada are met with the Prime Minister refusing to touch the issue. Combine this with the fact that Robyn Benson doesn't appear to have an end of life plan while Marlise Munoz had a specific one and these two cases are much different than they'd appear on the surface.


There isn't much to draw from these two superficially similar cases. Canada appears to allow for more flexibility on the part of the family, whether they'd like to continue a pregnancy in the absence of an advanced directive or they'd like to abort after the Wade v. Roe limit to continue with an established living will. With all major matters, a range of choices is crucial and it's a shame not everyone has the freedom to make the right ones for them.

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