Marlise Muñoz is the women in Texas who was declared brain dead and kept on support because she was pregnant. Many people have called it life-support, but that is a misnomer as she was legally dead by medical standards. The hospital, despite the wishes of her family, and indeed her own previous stated request, kept the machines running due to the their interpretation of the Texas law that puts the potential life of a foetus above that of the woman.
According to a Texas affiliate of ABC, the support was removed at 11:29 a.m. Sunday and according to a statement from Heather King and Jessica Janicek, attorneys for Marlise’s husband Erick Muñoz:
“The Muñoz and Machado families will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Muñoz’s body to rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered. May Marlise Muñoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey.”
This has been a disturbing story since the outset for a number of reasons. This was a young women who was married and happily pregnant who was struck down last November. Since then, her story has been a media circus around the world, and totally stripped the family of all privacy. In addition, there have been very few headlines where Ms. Muñoz was referred to by name and not as the dehumanizing `Brain dead Texas woman’. At the end, it took a court order for her, and her family’s wishes to be honoured.
In the US, there are a different regulations in various states on the recognition of Living Wills or Advance Directives. Here is a graphic from the Huffington Post adapted from a report published by the Center for Women’s Policy Studies.
Lest Canadians start feeling smug, the same thing can happen here. I didn’t search the appropriate Acts in the other provinces, but here is the relevant section where I live.
From the PEI Consent to Treatment and Health Care Directives Act:
12. Nothing in this Part authorizes a person to make a decision on an incapable patient’s behalf with respect to any of the following:
(c) an abortion except where the continuation of the pregnancy would be likely immediately to endanger her life or health.
Given the restrictive attitude towards abortion in this province a similar circumstance is possible.