Marlise Muñoz and the politics of life and death in Tarrant County, Texas

   < < Go Back
from Fort Worth Star Telegram,

Firefighter Erick Muñoz just wants to take his dying wife off life support, but he lives in the wrong county and state.

So Marlise Muñoz is now in limbo, supported solely for the sake of her unborn child in a county and state where everything about life, death and abortion is political.

Had Muñoz been in a different city or state when she collapsed with no brain function Nov. 26, she might have been allowed to die, perhaps after an abortion to end what was then a 14-week pregnancy.

But at county-operated John Peter Smith Hospital in conservative Tarrant County, Texas, abortions were banned in 1988.

Muñoz’s county commissioners, their appointed hospital leaders, her state representative and state senator all helped weave laws and rules that now protect her unborn child over the family’s wish to let go of their beloved daughter, wife and mother.

“My deepest sympathy goes out to the family enduring this tragedy,” said state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, who represents Muñoz in Austin.

“My heart goes out to them. But the law’s clear that you can’t withdraw life support. This is probably the one area of that law that I do support.”

Under Texas law, JPS may not withdraw “life-sustaining treatment” from a pregnant “patient.”

But a Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System ethicist who helped write the law has disagreed with JPS’s interpretation.

Dr. Robert L. Fine told The Associated Press that if Muñoz is brain-dead, she’s not an ill “patient,” she’s legally dead.

How you die depends where you live.

More From Fort Worth Star Telegram:

Marlise Muñoz and the politics of life and death in Tarrant County, Texas