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Physis: Revista de Saúde Coletiva

versão impressa ISSN 0103-7331versão On-line ISSN 1809-4481


PENNA, Maria Lúcia Fernandes. Anencephaly and brain death. Physis [online]. 2005, vol.15, n.1, pp.95-106. ISSN 1809-4481.

Brazilian society has recently discussed the ethics of interrupting pregnancy in the case of an anencephalic fetus. In such cases, anti-abortionists contend that anencephaly is not the same as brain death, since a brainstem is present. This article discusses the concept of brain death and its application to the issue of anencephaly. We point to key historical aspects in the development of this concept and the importance of considering the difference between concept and criteria. Neurological death is the definitive and complete loss of consciousness, while the presence of a brainstem is merely a criterion to be used in cases of head injury in previously intact brains. The concept of brain death is totally applicable to the absence of cortex in a fetus with anencephaly, which without a doubt allows such a fetus to be removed from the uterus. To maintain the criminalization of this procedure by legal means represents religious interference in the lay and democratic state, thus impeding exercise of choice by individuals in accordance with personal creed.

Palavras-chave : Abortion; brain death; anencephaly.

        · resumo em Português     · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )


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