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'Marlise's Law' on Pregnant Women's End-of-Life Directives Gets Hearing at Capitol

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News
The Texas House State Affairs Committee heard testimony on April 15, 2015 regarding a bill known as "Marlise's Law," about pregnant women's end of life directives.

When Marlise Muñoz was hospitalized in 2013 with a pulmonary embolism, she was 14 weeks pregnant. Though she had told her family that she never wanted to be on life support, doctors at a Fort Worth hospital kept her on life support until a judge ruled that because she was brain dead, the medical team could take her off of the machines.

"Our daughter died on Nov. 26 and she was connected to the machine for 62 days, and we’re talking about a dead body," said Lynn Machado, her mother, who who says currently in Texas the government is making decisions that should be left to a family and doctors.  

At a hearing of the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Susan Hayes with the abortion rights group NARAL Pro Choice Texas encouraged members to pass the bill by State Rep. Elliot Naishtat, D-Austin. 

"Current health and safety code treats pregnant women as second class citizens by taking away their right to decide for themselves which end of life medical treatments are right for them," Hayes said.

Cecilia Wood with Concerned Women for America of Texas, a conservative group, disagrees. She told lawmakers that the pregnancy exclusion in Texas should stay.

"Her life has ended, and that's tragic, and that's sad for the family. I see no benefit in ending the second life as a part of that tragedy," Wood said. "I would say that it would never have been OK to abide by the wishes of the family if that as to take the life of the child." 

House Bill 3185 was left pending in committee. It will need to get out of committee and to the House floor in the next couple of weeks for a chance to become law this session.

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