Catholic Culture, Phil Lawler: If you’re following the debate about “brain death,” don’t miss this report in the Washington Post, analyzing coverage of the tragic death of actress Anne Heche. Here’s the eye-opening passage:
The Post’s obituaries editor, Adam Bernstein, said the newspaper doesn’t recognize brain death, which is sometimes partial, as a clear marker of death.
“It’s black and white. There’s no gray area here. If you’re on life support, you’re still alive,” Bernstein said. “Other publications can make their own judgment about when they’re comfortable publishing. I’m comfortable when someone is actually dead.”
After a horrible car accident on Friday morning, August 12, Anne Heche was declared “brain dead,” and many media outlets promptly reported her death. But in accordance with her wishes as an organ donor, she was kept on life support—showing unmistakable signs of lilfe, albeit with mechanical help and without detectable brain activity—while doctors determined whether they could harvest organs for transplant. Finally on August 14 she was removed from life support, and the awkward argument about her status (dead or alive?) was ended. Report is here.