Texas Bill Would Allow Removal of Life Support from Pregnant Women

Lana ShadwickA Democrat Texas legislator has filed a bill that would allow the removal of life support from a pregnant woman. The bill would repeal section 166.049 of the Texas Health and Safety Code providing that a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient. The law is entitled “Marlise’s Law.” Marlise Munoz was removed from life support when she was 23-weeks pregnant. She was kept on life support for eight weeks before life support was terminated.

Thirty-three year old Mrs. Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when her husband found her unconscious. She had suffered from a pulmonary embolism. Mrs. Munoz was said to have communicated her wishes in the event of such a catastrophic event.

Breitbart News reported about how her family fought to get an order from a district court judge allowing doctors to remove her from life support. John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth had been keeping Mrs. Munoz on life support despite her family’s wishes. Officials said they were bound by the Texas Advance Directives Act. An advance directive is a written statement regarding medical treatment that a person wishes to have carried out in the event they are not able to communicate their wishes at the time.

Erick Munoz and the hospital agreed that his wife met the medical criteria for being brain dead. Mr. Munoz’s attorney’s accused the hospital of conducting a “science experiment.”

Breitbart News reported that Mr. Munoz’s lawyers argued that her case would set a dangerous precedent. They said that “special ICU’s for brain-dead women carrying babies” would have to be created. One of the attorneys, Jessica Hall Janicek, argued “There is an infant, and a dead person serving as a dysfunctional incubator.”

The order issued by Tarrant County District Court Judge R. H. Wallace, Jr. (R-Tarrant County) to terminate life support for Mrs. Munoz and her unborn baby, was strongly condemned by pro-life organizations. Judge Wallace was appointed to the bench of the 96th District Court by then Governor Rick Perry in 2010. The judge was re-elected in 2012 without opposition.

As reported by Breitbart News, Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue provided this statement:

We are appalled by Judge Wallace’s order to terminate life support for Marlise Munoz and her baby. The order is the equivalent of signing a death sentence for Baby Munoz. We utterly reject the false notion that Marlise’s body is a rotting corpse, which is impossible since a decaying body cannot support the life of a baby for weeks, as Marlise has.

Killing people because they are disabled is wrong, and dangerously devalues all life. We condemn in the strongest terms this order to fatally discriminate against this disabled mother and her baby, especially in light of the fact that there are people standing by to adopt the baby knowing that the child will have special needs.

Texas State Representative Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) has filed the bill, H.B. 3183, which would apply advance directive and do-not-resuscitate laws to a pregnant patient. The bill removes the provision in section 166.033 of the Texas Health and Safety Code that provides “I understand that under Texas law this directive has no effect if I have been diagnosed as pregnant.” Rep. Naishtat is Vice Chairman of the House Public Health comittee and is a member of the House Human Services Committee.

If passed, “Marlise’s Law” would also repeal section 166.098 of the Health and Safety Code providing that a person may not withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation or other life-sustaining treatment from a person known by responding health care professionals to be pregnant.

The law would take effect immediately if it received a two-thirds vote of all of the members of each house. If it does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, it would take effect September 1, 2015.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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