by Remy Mumaw
When a woman is pregnant, it should be one of the happiest times in her life, filled with joy and excitement. Though in the back of everyone’s mine is the possibility of complications that may leave the mother or family with difficult decisions to make. Back in January 2014, I saw a news story about a woman from Texas who was placed on life support after suffering from a blood clot in her lungs. The woman in this story, Marlise Munoz, was pronounced brain dead and placed on a respirator until someone made a decision about what to do next. Her husband, Erick, wanted her taken off of life support but the hospital said it was against the law to take her off. First of all, I could not imagine how hard it was for Erick to make the decision to take Marlise off of life support and have both his wife and baby die. As I learned more and more about this story I began to think what I would want my wishes to be if I were pregnant and brain dead. However, the decision I want made isn’t always the decision I am going to get depending on the state laws.
In Texas, there is a law restricting the removal of life support from a pregnant patient and that is why the hospital denied Erick Munoz of his wish to have his wife taken off of life support. The Texas law states, “A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient” (Congress 166.049). Even though this is the law in Texas it may not be the law in other states, in fact every state has the right to decide which laws they make regarding this issue. According to the Bill of Rights, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” (“The Bill of Rights: A Transcription” par. 14). That means that if the federal government does not deem something as legal or illegal, the states are allowed to individually decide the legality of that issue. If the state does not choose to put a law in place then the decision goes to the people where they can then make a decision on their own personal beliefs. I personally think that the states should make the decision regarding abortion and related issues because I believe that it should be regulated in some way. However since we have two major political parties with two different beliefs, this allows me to be able to live in a state where my beliefs are represented through the laws in place.
Since each state gets to choose which side they are on, this means that every state varies across the country in this issue. In the United States there are currently 26 states that vote Republican and 18 states that vote Democrat, which leaves one non-partisan state and five states that are split (“State Scape- Legislative Control”). The political party affiliation is based off of the votes made by the citizens in that state. If the majority of the citizens are voting Republican then they are going to elect an official who is also Republican to represent their state. Since the citizens are the ones voting on the officials, the officials are going to have similar beliefs. Republicans are more conservative and stick to traditional values and beliefs. Democrats tend to be more liberal and are more open to nontraditional ideas and beliefs. For example Texas is a Republican state and therefore has conservative beliefs and that is why they have a law in place preventing the removal of life support if a woman is brain dead and pregnant. On the other hand Colorado is Democratic state and they are less likely to have laws like the one in Texas. Though it is sometimes hard for states to choose a side because they have citizens who believe in both sides and not just one. I for example I am from Iowa, and Iowa is one of those states that is a split state, they are neither Republican nor Democratic. So which side am I on; do I agree with the Republican views similar to a state like Texas; or do I agree with the Democratic views of states such as Colorado? Frankly I can’t say I really choose one side over the other because for one I don’t have a very strong political opinion but two I can see where both sides come from so I can’t really choose.
I agree with the Republican views that they should maintain my life in order to save my fetus if I am considered dead. If I am dead or considered dead then that means that there is nothing else the doctors can do to revive me. However, on the other hand I agree with the Democratic views that if a woman is pregnant and in critical condition then it isn’t against the law to essentially abort the fetus in order to save the mother. If my baby did not have a strong chance of survival and the doctors where left with the decision of save me or maybe save the fetus but lose me, I would want them to save me because there is not point in losing two people when you know you can save one. Some people may think that I am being selfish by saying this but I believe that if I were to give up my life for another person I would want to know that they have a chance at a decent quality of life. I would feel guilty leaving my child behind to deal with a poor quality of life. Since I do not have a strong political view on this topic I am glad that I am from a state that is split. However, since I don’t currently live there I have to follow rules that Nebraska currently has but I am glad that if I don’t agree with these laws I can always move back to Iowa or to a different state that has laws that I do believe in.
Health and Safety Code, § 166-166.049 (1999). Print.
“StateScape – Legislative Control.” StateScape – Legislative Control. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2014.
“The Bill of Rights: A Transcription.” National Archives and Records Administration.National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.