Texas Will Keep a Dead Woman on Life Support Just to Incubate Her Fetus

Illustration for article titled Texas Will Keep a Dead Woman on Life Support Just to Incubate Her Fetus

Just in case you still haven't reached your frustration quota of awful abortion-related tales from the Lone Star State, here's one that should make you facepalm so hard the NFL will require you to complete a battery of concussion tests: a pregnant woman from Tarrant County, Texas who suffered a pulmonary embolism the week after Thanksgiving has been kept on life support against her and her family's wishes so she can essentially serve as an incubator for her fetus.


Writing in The Dallas Morning News, Jacquielyn Floyd tells the heart-wrenching story of Marlise Munoz, which begins as a pretty straightforward holiday-season tragedy and devolves, thanks to law in Texas that automatically invalidates a woman's legal prerogatives about end-of-life preferences if she "is diagnosed with pregnancy," into a something resembling a science fiction horror story.

Munoz suffered what doctors believe was pulmonary embolism (a blood clot to the lungs) the week after Thanksgiving. When her husband Erick found her, she wasn't breathing and had no pulse. After he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and called for an ambulance, Marlise was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, which is when her situation went from tragic to infuriating:

Electric shocks and drugs started her heart again and it continued beating with mechanical support, but her brain waves were completely flat. She had gone without breathing for too long to ever recover.

But when the heartbroken family was ready to say goodbye, hospital officials said they could not legally disconnect Marlise from life support. At the time she collapsed, she was 14 weeks pregnant.

And because doctors could still detect a fetal heartbeat, state law says Marlise Munoz's body — against her own and her family's wishes — must be maintained as an unwilling incubator.

How in the ever-living fuck can something like this happen? Well, according to a 2012 report from the Center for Women Policy Studies, Texas is one of 12 states that just plugs its ears and screams, "LA, LA, LA, LA" if a pregnant woman's wish is to be taken off of life support should such a necessity arise.

Meanwhile, the distraught Munoz family has not only had to prolong its grieving through the holidays, but also fend off anti-abortion critics who've accused Erick Munoz of simply wanting to "pull the plug" so he could "get rid" of his wife and baby. This shitstorm of baseless criticism from people who really ought to mind their own business began after the family announced publicly that they wanted to allow the fetus to die peacefully along with Malise. Now, what should have been a very private tragedy (and decision) for the Munoz family has turned into a political rallying point for the sort of anti-abortion people who, at the very least, refuse to demonstrate even a little tact or common decency.



This is problematic on many levels. Many, many levels. Firstly, do we know if the fetus is viable? Severe oxygen deprivation does not only affect the mother. Also, who is paying for her medical care? I realize that this is a very crass question, but if the family/their insurance is expected to cover this, it could very well beggar them. I guess if I feel like it is a state mandate, the state should pick up the tab (hahahah! I crack myself up with expectations like these).

My heart goes out to this family. It's bad enough that she had the embolism, but to have to deal with everyone and their brother (myself included) having an opinion about their personal tragedy on top of things, ugh.