There is a classic life and death tug of war being played out in a Fort Worth hospital and for a husband and son of Marlise Munoz, who is considered brain dead, her life’s end is now in the state’s hands. This is due primarily to Texas state law which protects the life of her growing baby. And there lies the dilemma for Marlise’s husband Erick Munoz, who wants the doctors to let her body die without the continued artificial life support keeping her alive.
So should Marlise be let go and with her cause the automatic death of the child she is carrying? According to ABC News, John Peter Smith Hospital officials have their hands tied, because even with the insistence of Marlise’s parents and husband to allow the hospital to pull the plug, a pregnancy nullifies any and all previous directives.
At the time that Marlise suffered a blood clot and collapsed in November, she was 14 weeks pregnant and according to her husband, a paramedic, he did not know just how long she had been unconscious on November 26th. Of course, it is certainly understandable that Marlise’s husband would not want his wife to exist in the condition that she is in, as he stated to ABC News.
But there has to be a much larger and much more fundamental issue that has to be dealt with and that is who has the legal responsibility to cause the intentional death of a baby that has a viable chance to be born. Is murder by convenience the reality or should the state protect the growing life of an innocent?
Fortunately for that growing baby, the state of Texas has decided that the legal protection afforded all residents of Texas also extend to the life of the unborn child, despite the protests of loved ones of the brain dead mother.
In fact, ABC news reported that according to a 2010 study of 30 cases involving women who were pregnant and brain-dead, 12 of the 19 babies were born and were indeed viable. They were normal. So should that be the guiding principle which all doctors at any hospital in Texas as well as the nation are guided by?
Life itself is not something that can or should be extinguished at the whim of a husband or parents who want to bring closure to a loved one, which can result in bringing death to the growing baby. That is not a decision that any relative or loved one should be allowed to take when it comes to defending the life and viability of the child.
Emotional pain is indeed mixed in with memories and the need to establish a sense of finality which will allow all concerned parties to cut ties with the past and move on. But extinguishing emotional ties at the expense of a right to life is not a measure that should bear any weight in the law.
The baby’s life is present by the grace of God and a law that protects that grace. The family of Marlise feels that John Peter Smith Hospital’s obligation ended once the “patient”, being Marlise, was declared clinically dead. But where there is life, there is protection and now the living patient is the unborn child and that baby’s treatment is the life sustaining gift the child’s mother’s body is providing.
So in the end, the right to death does not outweigh the right to life of a baby, thanks to the good caring people of Texas, which now gives life a chance in a Fort Worth hospital. God bless them one and all.
Image: Courtesy of: http://cst2012.wikispaces.com/Life+and+Dignity+of+the+Human+Person