Finally a small flicker of enlightenment in Texas.
After eight weeks of standing by helplessly, Erick Munoz has been given the right to remove his brain dead wife from life support.
In what was an awful tragedy, he found his young wife, 33, unconscious - doctors believe it was a pulminary embolism - 8 weeks ago. Compounding the unfairness life had dealt her, she was 14 weeks pregnant at that time. She was rushed to the hospital where she was placed on life support. But the damage had been done. She was brain dead. There was no knowing exactly how long she had been without oxygen, but it was clear that the damage to her fetus would prove just as damning.
Her husband and family prepared to say their goodbyes, and take her off life support. This was a subject she and Erick had both discussed at length before, and her wishes were clear - she did not want to be kept "alive" just for the sake of saying she was "alive."
Unfortunately, this intensely private decision, this torturous piece of Hell come to Earth, was compounded because she hit the floor in Texas. And in Texas, where we grow our cattle, asshats, and over reaching laws big, the hospital stepped in and informed them they would not take her off life support. She was pregnant, regardless of the far reaching implications of oxygen deprivation to her fetus, and as such, Texas law stipulates that a woman shall be turned into an incubator until the baby is born or dies.
The overreach here is stunning, but it is not only Texas with laws like this on the books. There are more than 2 dozen other states with these type of grossly intrusive edicts in place.
But it is no surprise that it exists in Texas. Texas legislators are notorious for being backwards, ignorant, and woefully against women. Why medicine is practiced by lawmakers in Austin is beyond me. That is not their job. They prove repeatedly that they don't even have a cursory understanding of how a woman's body works, let alone the medical knowlege to legislate it. Nor is it their job to tell a grieving husband that it is THEY, not him, who gets to decide his wife's fate.
I live in Austin, and while it is a fairly blue oasis (save the state house being located here), it is surrounded by a blood red sea of conservatives who love their guns, their God, their GOP.
But today, in a stunning moment of judicial clarity, a Texas judge ordered that Erick be allowed to terminate Marlise's life support. There is now medical proof that the fetus, now 22 weeks, is "distinctly abnormal."
It is shameful that this man, that this family, has been put through this emotional hell, this horrendous piling on. It is truly awful that Marlise, brain dead for the past 8 weeks, was turned into some flesh and blood incubator by the state. And it is absolutely wrong that the decision was completely taken away from the husband.
As with Terri Schiavo, this is not a decision in which strangers and politicians have any business being involved. It is deeply personal, unimaginably painful, and should be completely private.
Had this happened to Marlise when she was far enough along to be carrying a viable baby, I could almost understand - almost - keeping her alive long enough to C-section the baby. That sad scenario plays out fairly, and sadly, regularly when tragedy strikes a pregnant woman. But this? No. Just no.
My heart goes out to Erick Munoz, to he and Marlise's 15 month old son, Mateo, and her parents, Lynne and Ernest.
But the truth is, I never should have known their names to begin with.
May you finally rest in peace. And may your story be the impetus for much needed change.