“My wife is nothing more than an empty shell. She died in November 2013, and what sits in front of me is a deteriorating body.” According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, these are the words of Eric Munoz, after a Texas judge ruled that the state’s pregnancy protection law did not apply to someone who was not legally alive. Marlise Munoz will finally be taken off life support today.
It’s a shame that Munoz had to sue to have his wife’s body removed from a ventilator machine after the hospital took it upon itself to play God rather than properly interpreting the rule of law. And please don’t use the excuse that it was trying to save the baby. Mrs. Munoz was only 14 weeks pregnant when she expired and anyone who has a modicum of knowledge about the physiology of pregnancy knows that the chances of a 14 week fetus surviving until 37 or 38 weeks without brain or organ damage are practically null and void.
Neither Eric nor Marlise were strangers to our healthcare system based on their jobs as paramedics. They faced death on a daily basis as first-responders in medical emergencies and were well versed with end-of-life decision making. Mrs. Munoz clearly informed her family that she did not want to be kept alive under “such circumstances.” So, why didn’t the obstetricians involved in this case comply? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Ethics outlined the guidelines in the Committee Opinion No. 433 “End of Life Decision Making.” It states that physicians must be careful not to impose their own values on a patient and if there is a difference in values, the “pregnant women’s autonomous decisions should be respected.” It can’t get any plainer than that Texas.
For a state that has the highest rates of executions in the U.S., it’s a bit ironic that they would ignore the wishes of a dead woman and attempt to keep her alive.
Marlise Munoz will be removed from the ventilator today. May she FINALLY rest in peace.