No Longer Human
At this moment in a Fort Worth hospital, Marlise Munoz’s body is hooked up to machines that are keeping her body alive. Her brain function, her ability to communicate, or hold her child, or kiss her husband—all of those are tragically and irreversibly lost as the result of a pulmonary embolism she suffered the week after Thanksgiving. Marlise had expressed to her husband Erick—both of them were paramedics—that she never wanted to be kept alive this way. So why, despite her own clear wishes and those of her husband and her parents, is she still on life support?
Because Marlise was fourteen weeks pregnant when she passed.
According to the New York Times, more than thirty states restrict when a hospital can remove life support from a pregnant woman, and a dozen, including Texas, have laws on the books that require hospitals to keep a woman’s body alive if she’s pregnant. The hospital must override the doctor’s judgment that she will not recover, the family’s wishes, and even the expressed will of the individual herself. In the most tragic way possible, Marlise’s case is forcing us to confront the reality that in far too many places, women are literally seen in the eyes of the law as vessels whose primary function is to produce more offspring. Sound dehumanizing? That’s exactly what it is.
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