Last winter, the family of Marlise Muñoz had to undergo the terrible ordeal of fighting the state for the ability to take their deceased daughter off mechanical support. Now, a conservative state representative says he plans to make those kinds of heartbreaking decisions even harder—or, perhaps, impossible.
It seems grotesque that a woman’s lifeless body can be commandeered by a state and used as a petri dish in which to grow a baby. But that’s exactly what happened to Marlise Munoz in Texas, and that is what is going to happen to women in Louisiana should Gov. Bobby Jindal sign HB 1274 into law.
The state’s House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that would prohibit a family from directing physicians to remove mechanical support from a brain-dead pregnant woman.
The recent Marlise Munoz case should be a call to action for anyone who believes that pregnant women and their families deserve respect. More than 30 states have laws that require a pregnant woman to be kept on mechanical support no matter what her living will says, and it is time for that to change.
The heartbreaking cases of both Robyn Benson and Marlise Munoz illustrate the need to defer to families and medical professionals, rather than bureaucrats and lawmakers, in making end-of-life decisions for pregnant persons.
There’s a growing conflict between states that recognize a fundamental right to make end-of-life decisions and those that override those wishes only when a person is pregnant.
As more courts recognize a patient’s privacy rights to make end-of-life health-care decisions, it’s become clear that what courts characterize as “fundamental rights” don’t apply to pregnant people.
Marlise Munoz’s family will finally be able to say goodbye to the 33-year-old, who collapsed in her home nearly nine weeks ago.
The Friday ruling came after Munoz’s family asked a court to let them bury her.
Attorneys say the sex of the now-22-week-old fetus inside Marlise Munoz’s body cannot be determined due to “deformed” lower extremities, and it also suffers from hydrocephalus and an as yet undetermined heart problem.