Marlise Machado Munoz is a 33-year-old woman who was 14 weeks pregnant when she suffered a pulmonary embolism while up in the middle of the night to care for her toddler. Her heart stopped and was revived numerous times, but a lack of oxygen resulted in brain-death.
Munoz and her husband were both paramedics. They were intimately aware of brain death and vegetative states. Consequently, Munoz expressed her desire to be removed from life support if she were ever left in a vegetative state.
The state of Texas, however, has no interest in how she would like her body treated. Her body, apparently, belongs to them. Texas law does not allow the removal of life support from a pregnant woman, even if she explicitly states that’s what she wants. That’s right, even if she writes an advanced directive.
Sorry. You have a fetus in your belly and we don’t believe in killing fetuses, therefore we will take ownership of your body and decide how it will be treated. We will take ownership of your life, your body and your death. You belong to us and our twisted misogynistic right-wing laws.
What the hell? Are you seriously keeping a woman hooked up to machines against her will and that of her family so she can serve as a technically dead incubator for a fetus that may or may not be viable anyway? Where do the people come from who write these laws? Do they have brains?
It's her body. She can die if she wants to. She is not beholden to her uterus nor what it contains. The state does not own her body. When did a woman’s body become public property?
Oh that’s right. It’s pretty much always been, and not just in Texas: "According to a 2012 report from the Center for Women Policy Studies, Texas is one of 12 states that automatically invalidates women’s end-of-life wishes if she is pregnant. Those state laws ensure that ‘regardless of the progression of the pregnancy, a woman must remain on life-sustaining treatment until she gives birth.’"
This is insanity.
This woman did not want to be kept on life support. Her family doesn’t want her to be kept on life support. And yet, she has been kept alive for seven weeks and will remain so until the fetus can be delivered, or it dies on its own.
This is particularly ridiculous because Texas allows abortion up to 20 weeks. If a woman can voluntarily walk into a clinic and get an abortion up to 20 weeks, how does it make sense that you would force "life" on a fetus against the will of its mother and father when they could have decided literally the day before to terminate the pregnancy?
I imagine this is an archaic law that hasn’t come up very often and therefore lies unchallenged in all its backwards glory. Then again, maybe not. Texas is waging war on women’s reproductive rights, and I imagine there's an alarming number of people jumping up and down in delight right now because the "baby’s life" is "honored."
The mother’s? Not so much.
But that’s a risk they’re willing to take, you know, for their own political agendas.
Here’s the bottom line: A woman can have an abortion if she wants one. If you don’t agree with it, don’t have one. But the fact remains that a woman’s body is hers to do with as she pleases. The fact that she has the ability to procreate does not make her a ward of the state. Her biology cannot dictate her access to human rights, and is it not a basic human right to choose how she will live and die?
In other words, this woman has a right to die as she pleases. This right is extended to literally every other adult in the state, as long as they are not pregnant. Or, to put it more accurately: As long as she is not pregnant.
Do you see a problem here? Women are treated differently on account of their biology. Women do not have access to equal rights because their bodies are capable of reproducing. Women are denied equal rights because of something beyond their control.
If you don’t see a problem there, you are the problem.
And you are the reason I’m working as hard as I can to raise my kids with an unwavering understanding that a woman’s body is hers, forever, to do with as she pleases, and her rights should be defended to hell and back.
Or Texas. Whichever comes first.
For another perspective^ "Unlike clear-cut right-to-die situations, there are two lives to take into account. That's what brings Marlise's tragedy into the right-to-life arena. But unlike most pregnancy termination situations, the best interests of both Marlise and her unborn child will be considered. We have Texas law to thank for that." Keep reading for the rest of Rebecca Bahret's opinion >>