Brain dead, forced to stay on life support by the state of Texas


Erick and Marlise Munoz with their oldest son

The diagnosis was crushing and irrevocable. At 33, Marlise Munoz was brain-dead after collapsing on her kitchen floor in November from what appeared to be a blood clot in her lungs.

But as her parents and her husband prepared to say their final goodbyes in the intensive care unit at John Peter Smith Hospital here and to honor her wish not to be left on life support, they were stunned when a doctor told them the hospital was not going to comply with their instructions. Mrs. Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant, the doctor said, and Texas is one of more than two dozen states that prohibit, with varying degrees of strictness, medical officials from cutting off life support to a pregnant patient…

“It’s not a matter of pro-choice and pro-life,” said Mrs. Munoz’s mother, Lynne Machado, 60. “It’s about a matter of our daughter’s wishes not being honored by the state of Texas.”

Mrs. Munoz’s father, Ernest Machado, 60, a former police officer and an Air Force veteran, put it even more bluntly. “All she is is a host for a fetus,” he said on Tuesday. “I get angry with the state. What business did they have delving into these areas? Why are they practicing medicine up in Austin?”

At least 31 states have adopted laws restricting the ability of doctors to end life support for terminally ill pregnant women, regardless of the wishes of the patient or the family, according to a 2012 report from the Center for Women Policy Studies in Washington. Texas is among 12 of those states with the most restrictive such laws, which require that life-support measures continue no matter how far along the pregnancy is…

The restrictive measures were largely adopted in the 1980s, with the spread of laws authorizing patients to make advance directives about end-of-life care like living wills and health care proxies, said Katherine A. Taylor, a lawyer and bioethicist at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The provisions to protect fetuses, she said, helped ease the qualms of the Roman Catholic Church and others about such directives.

These laws essentially deny women rights that are given others to direct their health care in advance and determine how they want to die,” Ms. Taylor said. “The law can make a woman stay alive to gestate the fetus.”

The question comes down to the hypocrisy of elected officials who swear above all else to honor the Constitution of the United States and then turn centuries backwards and accept the superstitions of one or another religion to guide their decisions. Pandering is the word that comes to mind. Pandering to the 14th Century beliefs of some voters to stay in power.

There have been times, there have been individuals in politics who lived up to the premise of providing guidance and leadership to the electorate. That’s why we speak of public service. Making a career of studying circumstances, acquiring the latest and most complete knowledge of subjects aiding the public interest, committing to the greater good is what public service is supposed to be about.

Lip service is paid by campaigners; but, so often, the immediate after-effect of even the least appearance of a mandate is opportunism, paybacks to the money boys, divvying up the spoils of political power among the most unproductive and uncompetitive elements of the power-hungry.

We end up with one more example of religious ideology ruled as mandatory for life and death in the medical-industrial complex. Fundamentalists rejoice as a family is forced by law and lawyers to let the decaying body of their loved one serve as an incubator. Freedom of choice, dignity, personal worth mean nothing in the eyes of what passes for law under the thumb of opportunist politicians.

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One comment

  1. moss

    A committee of mediocre scholars in the 14th Century compiled a collection of superstition and short stories and turned the copyright over to the King of England. And every ignorant pissant still hangs on every word. Shows what lack of education can perpetuate.

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