Many here have probably read the gut wrenching story out of this morning’s Times concerning a woman who has lost brain function and whose husband and extended family have lost the rights they assumed they had under the law to remove life support. The reason?
She was also an expected mother. In Texas, if there is any chance the fetus could reach viability, they cannot ‘pull the plug’.
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.
To draw the inevitable comparison to the Teri Schiavo case it is interesting that a law, the one that ostensibly gave the next of kin the right to make this decision in that case, one even the right to life crowd wanted left with the family, is now preventing a family from making a decision that it feels is in the best interests of it’s daughter. In Texas, neither the family nor the husband has the rights we have been accustomed to seeing families maintain in these questions. But the hospital and the state has arbitrarily kept her alive.
As her husband and parents said:
“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?”
There may or may not be a legal case going forward. But this is the kind of stuff Wendy Davis was trying to stop, and this is the kind of case that can galvanize fence sitters. As many of you know, I have long supported Roe v Wade but have had my own private doubts about the morality of elective abortion. I still do, but I also know that I would never want to be in the shoes of this family, having the state interfere and prevent them from making the best healthcare decisions for their incapacitated daughter. Similarly, I would never want to be in the shoes of an expected mother facing the dilemma so many are facing in states across the union. I still oppose federal funding, and favor some reasonable restrictions, but this law in Texas and the hundreds of others in statehouses across the country, are unreasonable and end up causing as much emotional pain as the pain they claim to prevent.