The Texas Legislature’s Awful Push Against Brain-Dead Pregnant Women

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In late 2013, North Texas mom Marlise Munoz collapsed from a pulmonary embolism while three and a half months pregnant with her second child. She went brain-dead immediately. After the embolism, Texas forced Munoz’s doctors to violate her family’s request to remove life support because her fetus was more than 14 weeks old. Texas forced her family to go through what they called a “nightmare”: watching Marlise languish brain-dead, her body visibly deteriorating and emitting horrible odors, and all while having no say about it.

“We felt that they were pushing aside her wishes — pushing aside our wishes — and using Marlise as an experiment, if you will, to see how long the baby could survive,” her mother Lynne Machado said.

Eventually, a state judge saw the illegality of violating a human being’s directives without scientific backing, and allowed her family to put her to test. That really enraged the hateful men and women who mostly run the show in Texas. Now two years, Republican State Rep. Matt Krause of Fort Worth is working on a bill that would, according to the Dallas Morning News, “would appoint a representative to speak on behalf of the fetus if a pregnant woman is declared brain-dead or otherwise permanently incapacitated.”

A fetus is not a person. It doesn’t matter whether you think it is or not; a fetus by definition is not a person in America. Here in the land of the civilized and free, except towards the very end of pregnancy, a fetus is federally considered the property of the woman whose body contains it. See Roe v. Wade. Thus, it’s definitional insanity to pit a woman’s interests against something inside her own body. Even if that “something” could eventually turn into something else: a baby entitled to the same exact rights, including court representation, as the rest of us.

“To me that’s saying that my family was not looking out for the best interest of Marlise and the fetus,” Marlise’s mother said of the bill. “We feel our actions and decisions were based on what was best for both of them.” She plans to testify against the bill because “nobody should have to go through the pain, and frankly the torture, that we had to witness.”

In Texas at the moment, “should” has no meaning. Instead of addressing the real needs of the state — from roads to robust environmental regulation, or even to making drive-texting illegal — sick bills by unworthy legislators are the real story.



About Author

Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman has been a BOR staff writer since 2011. A graduate of the University of Texas, Ben has worked on campaigns, in political consulting, and has written for other news outlets like Think Progress. Ben considers campaign finance reform the fundamental challenge of our time because it distorts almost every other issue in American politics.

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