Monday, January 6th, 2014
A woman in Texas named Marlise Munoz suffered what doctors believe was a lung blockage just before Thanksgiving. When her husband Erick found her, she was unconscious, and the family has said a doctor declared her brain dead.
Despite Marlise’s wishes to never be kept alive on life support, and despite her family’s wishes to disconnect her from machines, the state of Texas is forcing the Munoz family to keep her on ventilators. Why? Because at the time of the tragedy, Marlise happened to be 14 weeks pregnant; and per Texas law, if a woman is pregnant, life-sustaining procedures cannot be withheld or discontinued—even if she has a living will stating that she does not want to be kept on life support. In Marlise’s case, if the fetus continues to develop and the pregnancy can be sustained, she could remain on ventilators until May.
“We are following the law of the state of Texas,” a spokesperson for the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth told the Associated Press. “This is not a difficult decision for us. We are following the law.”
Several legal experts analyzing this case say that the hospital is actually misinterpreting the law, and that Marlise’s wishes should be followed since she is legally dead—but the North Texas hospital continues to refuse a disconnect.
I cannot imagine the grief and heartache that the Munoz family is facing at this time. Not only has her husband, Erick, lost his wife, but it’s unlikely that this pregnancy could come to term and that the fetus could develop normally with Marlise in this state. Already the father of a 14-month-old boy, Erick has said he wanted another child, but he’s concerned about the damage already done to the fetus in attempts to revive his wife, and would rather let his wife rest in peace.
The fact that the state has the right to intervene and prolong this situation is sickening, and although some might see this as a pro-choice/anti-choice issue–it’s actually an issue of human dignity and human decency. Two things that all people, including Marlise and Erick, should be afforded.
“This isn’t about pro-life or pro-choice,” Ernest Machado, Marlise’s father, tearfully told Dallas News Friday. “We want to say goodbye. We want to let them rest.”
TELL US: Did you know that Texas and eleven other states have laws that disregard a woman’s end-of-life wishes while she is pregnant? Do you agree or disagree with these laws?
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