Many people use the saying “When one life ends another begins”, from personal experiences I believe this to be true. But this isn’t quite the case for the Munoz family who has been struggling to fight between the ethics of life care and the law. Marlise Munoz; a loving daughter, wife and mother, was pronounced brain dead this past November by doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital. As to her wishes, her family planned to remove her from life support and say their goodbyes. However, not long after pronouncing her dead, doctors revealed that 33 year old Marlise was 14 weeks pregnant. It is by law in the State of Texas that doctors are unable to cut off life support to patients who are pregnant. Now, over a month later Marlise is still on life support where doctors have continued to monitor the fetus in the 20th week of development. The issue of this matter is that the law applies to patients who are in a coma or vegetative state, so where does brain dead fall into place?
When She was first in the hospital medical officials claimed she was brain dead, however since they found out she was pregnant they have not yet commented on her current condition and care; leading to much uncertainty of her actual current condition. I find this situation to be extremely controversial and something that should not be taken lightly. It has been stated that brain dead means you are legally no longer alive, regardless of other bodily functions that may be maintained. But what is ethically and morally right in the case of Mrs. Munoz who has a growing fetus; something others may believe and define as a baby. Should the State of Texas have the final say in the life of an unborn fetus? I believe that because Marlise is no longer able to speak for herself that it is her family’s decision on what to do. The New York Times stated:
“her case has become a strange collision of law, medicine, and the ethics of life care and the issues swirling around abortion- when life begins and how it should be valued”.
Marlise’s mother commented saying:
“It’s not a matter of pro-life or pro-choice, it is about a matter of our daughters wishes not being honored by the state of Texas”
This I believe is morally unfair. I personally am pro-choice, I respect the right to one’s own decisions and the idea that the hospital is trying to save a life, however it is not there’s to decide on saving. This article found in the New York Times online has a lot of in depth information that will make you question your own ethics and values, follow the link to learn more about the this case. I would love to know what other people think about this situation!
Fernandez, M., & Eckholm, E. (2014, January 07). Pregnant, and forced to stay on life support. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/us/pregnant-and-forced-to-stay-on-life-support.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=1