The very sad case of the late Marlise Munoz, a brain-dead, pregnant Texas woman kept on artificial life support due to a little-known section of Texas law, was back in the news Wednesday. Marlise's mother and widower testified before a Texas House committee in support of legislation to change the law that forced Marlise to stay on life support against her own and her family's wishes after suffering a fatal aneurysm in 2013. Her mother, Lynn Machado, said Wednesday the family felt "angry, frustrated and hopeless," The Texas Tribune reported. "We felt our hands were bound and tied by government."
Because Marlise was 18 weeks pregnant when she collapsed, doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth would not remove her from life support, despite her husband Erick's request. As it's currently written, Texas law prohibits removing a pregnant woman from "life-sustaining treatment," and the hospital chose to follow the letter of that law, despite the lack of specific language about brain-dead patients. Erick Munoz argued at the time that his wife, a paramedic, was familiar with end-of-life issues, and did not want to be kept alive in such a manner. Erick sued the hospital to take Marlise off life support, and a judge granted his request in late January 2014. On Wednesday, Erick pleaded with the committee to leave end-of-life decisions "completely up to the family," rather than Texas' government, according to RH Reality Check.
I could not do anything to help my wife. Literally. Could not do anything to help my wife.
Marlise's Law, officially called HB 3183, was filed by Texas Rep. Elliott Naishtat last month. The legislation would remove this line, the so-called pregnancy exclusion, from Texas' advance directive law: "I understand that under Texas law this directive has no effect if I have been diagnosed as pregnant," which would enable women and their families to make the decisions themselves.
The pro-choice group NARAL live-tweeted Wednesday's hearing, with testimony that was fairly graphic at times.
Also testifying Wednesday was anti-abortion group Concerned Women for America, The Texas Tribune reported. Cecilia Wood told the committee that "It's never OK" to follow the family's wishes to take a pregnant woman off life support, when there is a "pre-born child" involved.
And there's a competing bill in the Texas legislature, which would do the opposite of Marlise's Law, making the requirement more specific to keep pregnant women on life support, even if they are brain dead, reported the Texas Tribune.
HB 3183 remained pending in committee Wednesday.