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'Marlise's Law' Would Let Stand Pregnant Women's End of Life Directives in Texas

KUT News
Ernest Machado speaks at the Capitol on March 12, 2015 to shore up support for a bill that would remove the pregnancy exclusion from Texas law on end of life advanced directives.

The case of Marlise Muñoz made national headlines when her family sued a Fort Worth hospital to take her off life support.

She was kept on machines for roughly two months, but doctors couldn’t remove her because she was pregnant. This case is now in the spotlight again, but this time at the Texas Capitol. 

Since 1999, Texas law prohibits pregnant women’s advanced directives from being carried out because of the fetus, so Marlise Muñoz, a paramedic, was kept on life support at a Fort Worth hospital for more than two months in 2013, despite her end of life directives.

"She did not under any circumstance want to be on mechanical support," says Lynne Machado, Muñoz’s mother, who says the government overstepped its boundaries because her daughter was 14 weeks pregnant. "It was very difficult to watch." 

Ultimately they sued the hospital and a judge ruled she could be taken off life support. Now, State Rep. ElliottNaishtat, D-Austin, has filed a bill(HB 3183) that would remove the pregnancy exclusion so that everyone’s directives stand. State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, however, has filed a bill (HB 1901) that would make no exceptions for brain dead patients and require life support to continue if the fetus can mature.

Krause’s bill has been assigned to the House State Affairs Committee.