Readers sound off: In Fort Worth, a struggle of two lives and death

01/19/2014 12:00 AM

11/12/2014 3:47 PM

The issues surrounding Marlise Muñoz, the pregnant woman kept on life support at Fort Worth’s John Peter Smith Hospital for the sake of her unborn child — but against what her family said were her wishes and theirs — raised wrenching legal and moral questions. Should those questions be decided according to choices made by a woman or her family about how her body is treated, or should they be guided by the state’s choice on how the unborn are treated?

In my opinion life and death, in this case un-born and mother, is a completely private matter.

Both husband and wife made their wishes clear; what more does it take? If the state can override a family’s legal request, in this case or any others, what good does it do to go to all of the trouble of making a living will?

More than this, all we ever hear in this state is about less government, yet we allow this intrusion into our most personal, intimate part of our lives.

Imagine trying to do what your wife wanted, deal with her pregnancy and death and, all the while, people you don’t even know, including the hospital, are telling you what to do. This sad situation is no one’s business, and I wish the Muñoz family well.

— Frances Manning, Granbury

While I have great empathy for the Muñoz family, I doubt if Mrs. Muñoz was thinking about carrying a viable baby in her womb when she said she would not want to be kept alive.

As a mother, I’m sure she would have done anything possible to save that baby’s life.

It is easy to say “Don’t keep me alive” when you are just one person. But this is two people, and that child might turn out to the biggest blessing of the Muñoz’s lives. It’s just a few more weeks; please give the baby a chance.

— Marita Moore, Weatherford

Marlise Muñoz’s story is heart-breaking, made immeasurably worse by conservative hypocrisy. “By law” her dead body has been force-fed life support in order to influence the outcome of her tragic death and support her unborn fetus. This against her own expressed wishes and those of her husband and family.

The hospital/doctors have spoken, but the party of “small government” again uses “law” to interfere with women’s rights to self-determination. The only people who should make such decisions are women, not some male-dominated conservative Legislature with an agenda.

— Robert Moore, Fort Worth

If the Legislature’s law requires keeping Marlise Muñoz alive as a human incubator against her family’s wishes, then the Legislature should pay her hospital bill.

— Kay Fulgham, Fort Worth

The government has no place in disregarding a person’s or a family’s decision to end life when it is gone.

She is not alive; her soul, her spirit is gone from her body. One moment there is life; the next, nothing.

This is not reverence for life; this is zealotry.

Reverence for life includes a reverence for death when it comes, even unexpectedly. I pray for more understanding of life and death and less rigid political polemics.

— Catherine Clyde, Fort Worth

Muñoz was declared brain-dead about 14 weeks into her pregnancy following a suspected pulmonary embolism. She could have an abortion up to 20 weeks if she weren’t brain dead.

Texas forces women to carry pregnancies until viability after brain death regardless of their stated wishes before death and/or the wishes of their family.

Gov. Rick Perry and his social-conservative legislative majority aren’t satisfied with a 20-week pregnancy limit on abortions; they want to prohibit all abortions.

I hope this case is taken to the U.S. Supreme Court. Keeping Muñoz on life support clearly violates the intent of Roe v. Wade. Muñoz should be allowed to die with dignity and her wishes to not be kept alive by artificial means should be honored.

— Hugh T. Lefler, Jr., M.D., Fort Worth

I am all for her decision to be taken off life support, but speaking as a mother myself, I would give my life if it meant saving my child. I believe the state should absolutely do all it can to save this baby. The fact that this family is willing to let this child die is very disheartening.

— Lisa Rubio, Keller

I would assume that, should this be a successful birth, the child will most certainly affect someone’s life profoundly. I do, however, question the government’s continued attempts to address (and legislate to its own point of view and judgment on) moral issues.

The law can’t continually attempt to rule over morality. There has to be a set of laws that applies to everyone equally, but moral values are as different and unique as each and every individual belief system. The government is overstepping its responsibilities by continually trying to legislate morality.

— Sandy Smith, Arlington

I can only hope that if this baby (fetus to be politically-correct) survives the legal actions of the Muñoz family, he/she will be put up for adoption immediately. No child should have to be raised in a family that supported his/her demise.

— Bonnie Hogg, Bedford

I understand her and her family’s wishes to not have her kept alive by machines indefinitely, but what I don’t understand is how they are willing to kill her unborn child because it might have problems from lack of oxygen while in utero.

If I was the family, I would want to at least give the baby a chance at life, and if it dies after being born, then at least they know they tried.

— Christie Partee, Grapevine

There is no question that Erick Muñoz has suffered in the loss of his wife. I have empathy for him, his son Mateo and their extended family.

There is one more life that must be considered, the life of their unborn baby. There have been other babies born successfully to comatose women. They have gone on to lead wonderful and productive lives.

Give this baby a chance, allow adoption by a family who will love and care for this precious baby. Allow a few more weeks, as it is never too long to save a human life.

— Nancy P. Gilbert, Arlington

The government’s use of the body of Marlise Muñoz as an incubator for what is most likely a severely impaired fetus belongs in some macabre science-fiction horror movie.

Citizens of this country have rights, and those rights begin when we are “born” as specified in the 14th Amendment to our Constitution. Zygotes, embryos and fetuses are not citizens of the United States, and there appears to be little public sentiment for giving them the rights of U.S. citizenship.

The Muñoz case is one more example of how radical theological views held by conservatives motivate them to trample on the rights of others by extending government’s control further into our private lives.

— Larry Mason, Azle

Mrs. Muñoz planned to have this baby, not knowing, for sure, as any woman does, if her baby would be 100 percent OK when it is born. But wouldn’t she have done anything to save this baby if she could? I believe she would.

— Carole Murray, Fort Worth

Keeping Marlise Muñoz on life support pursuant to state law simply because she’s pregnant and the law says it must be sustained until her 24th-26th week of pregnancy when the fetus becomes “viable” speaks loud and clear. It’s arbitrary and political.

Marlise is five months pregnant and the “expectant state” will intervene again, likely performing a C-section to deliver her baby. What then? Will they then pull the plug on the mother? Who’s the victor?

— Marie Spurlin, Fort Worth

I am all for personal choices when it comes to life-support decisions. However, these circumstances are extraordinary and I believe discontinuance of life support should be suspended until after the child is born.

— Linda Borg, Burleson

The woman in question will never wake up and the plug must be pulled. The Legislature must wake up from its ignorance of the living will and change the law.

— John M. Davis, Arlington

Sad to say, but I think whoever is paying the bills should have a say. If the state mandates a dead mother-to-be remain on life support in order to give birth and the family disagrees, then the state should pay the bills and put the baby up for adoption. If the family wants the same thing, then the bill is on them. Good luck getting your insurance company to agree.

— Jeff Murray, Weatherford

The woman’s choice should always come first. Think of her poor 14-month-old boy who doesn’t understand this. The state should give the living child some closure and learn to keep out of the private choices of a woman’s life, health and death. After all, the government needs to keep its hands out of our medical care, right?

— Katheryn Rogers, Grandview

She didn’t know when she made her wish she would be pregnant. Knowingly, would her wish be the same? The unborn child has no say but if let to live could possibly become the president of the United States or another career helpful to the world society.

— George J. Anthony, Fort Worth

The government must define who is and is not a legal person, subject to protection by the law. It must define the beginning of life as it does the end. That can’t be left to individual interpretation.

However, the definition must be based on scientific, objective criteria that can be accepted by all rational members of society. It must not be based on the superstitious belief in a supernatural being who implants a theoretical entity called a soul into each egg at the moment of fertilization.

Current national law defines the beginning of life at viability. Before that, the state has no power to interfere with a woman’s rights in order to protect her fetus. The Texas law violates that standard and should be held unconstitutional.

The larger question — the conflict of rights between a pregnant woman and her viable fetus — remains the most difficult our society faces.

— George Michael Sherry, Fort Worth

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