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Texas ‘Right-To-Die’ Drama

Life, death, mother, fetus and the state of Texas.

Erick Muñoz's wife, Marlise, is said to be brain dead. The Fort Worth, Tx. hospital where Marlise is under observation will not permit her family to remove the pregnant woman from life support until her child is born. (AP)

Erick Muñoz’s wife, Marlise, is said to be brain dead. The Fort Worth, Tx. hospital where Marlise is under observation will not permit her family to remove the pregnant woman from life support until her child is born. (AP)

The story of Marlise Muñoz lying brain dead and pregnant in Texas, kept alive by machines for a damaged fetus, sounds ghoulish enough for Edgar Allen Poe.  Her body decomposing in a hospital bed.  The life within deeply damaged.  Her family begging she be let go.  The hospital citing Texas law and saying no for long weeks.  On Friday, a Texas judge said enough.  No more life support.  The remains of Marlise Muñoz have been released to her family.  But the story of what happened in that hospital in Texas is still stirring controversy.  This hour On Point:  a woman and a fetus, life and death, and the law in Texas.

– Tom Ashbrook


Diane Jennings, reporter for The Dallas Morning News. (@djennings)

Tom MayoAltshuler University Distinguished Teaching Professor and associate professor of law at Southern Methodist University. (@tangowhiskymike)

Joe Pojman, executive director, Texas Alliance For Life (@joepojman)

Andrea Grimes, senior political reporter at RH Reality Check. (@andreagrimes)

Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate. Contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine. Fellow for creative writing and law at Yale Law School. (@emilybazelon)

From Tom’s Reading List

Dallas Morning News: Fight to take pregnant Tarrant woman off life support goes to judge Friday — “In court documents, Erick Muñoz said that doctors told him his wife was brain-dead and that he asked that she not be kept on life support. Both husband and wife had worked as paramedics and knew of each other’s end-of-life wishes, court filings say. Marlise Muñoz’s parents agreed with their son-in-law’s request. But officials at John Peter Smith refused to turn off life-support equipment, citing Texas law prohibiting removal if a patient is pregnant.”

ABC News: Why Texas Fetus Might Have Had ‘Abnormalities’ Before Mother Was Brain Dead — “The family of Marlise Munoz, a 33-year-old paramedic who was 14 weeks pregnant when a suspected pulmonary embolism left her brain dead two months ago, is suing John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth because doctors there told the family a Texas law forbade it from withdrawing life support until the fetus’s birth or a miscarriage occurs. The fetus has hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, a possible heart condition, and ‘lower extremities that deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined,’ lawyers representing Munoz’s husband announced Wednesday evening.”

Slate: Brain-Dead Marlise Munoz’s Fetus Is ‘Distinctly Abnormal.’ Please, Texas, Let This Nightmare End — “How can the state supersede the wishes of Erick in this scenario? The answer is that it can’t. Hospitals cannot provide ‘life-sustaining treatment’ to a person who is dead, and that’s what brain dead means: death. This is not the same as being in a vegetative state, where you can breathe without a respirator. In all 50 states, brain dead means you are legally dead.”

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  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com/ tombstone001

    How is it that some people just can’t stop playing god, better yet they persume to know what god qantas better than god himself.
    Be it taliban elsewhere or herbeing here in the US they are always ready anx willing to make pronouncements before god has a chancs.
    to keep this short, when god “decided” to kill the woman, hthee alsi decided to kill the baby, this how it has always workoed. When you fool yourself in believing that scince has simehow made , you the godyou go wrong.
    Stop playing god.

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com/ tombstone001

    Sorry about the pop up of Obama care that would not let ne the screen.

    • Rebecca

      Another point is, the fetus was under 20 week the legal cut off for abortion in TX. Even if she had not been brain dead the family could have been granted legal authority to act on her behalf and requested an abortion be performed due to the fetuses problems and oxygen deprivation … So the hospital honestly have no right to keep the fetus alive if the family did not wish it and were her health proxy.

      • John Cedar

        Yours argument is clever.

  • Shag_Wevera

    Texas?! Didn’t they secede or something?!

  • Shag_Wevera

    People should have the absolute right to end their lives at any time after achieving adult status. This topic should actually unite liberals and conservatives.

    • John Cedar

      According to science and liberalism, her life was already ended.
      In this case at hand, you are talking about another person making the decision to end a non life.
      I hope you see fit to at least restrict ending your won life with a three day waiting period to match consumer protection laws.

  • 1Brett1

    Texas: the place where brain-dead women are kept alive just so they can still be considered baby carriers (even for an unviable fetus), but where people are executed with ease and frequency…um…Don’t mess with Texas?

    ….At least they have Austin; it’s not much but it’s something.

  • Ed75

    There was a segment on The World Over where the morality of the case was discussed. The woman has died, so it doesn’t matter in regard to her whether she is taken off the ventilator or not. The question is whether the child is viable or close to viability or can reach viability. (The other question is the health of the child – but only in the extreme case that it is known for sure that the child will not live after birth.) Otherwise, there are two patients here, the mother and the child, and the death of the mother still leaves the child to be cared for. There have been a number of studied cases where this has happened, and where the child has been somewhat close to viability the child has been saved. As the guest on The World Over said, the woman said that she didn’t want to be on life support, but she didn’t say she didn’t want to be kept on life support if she were pregnant, that’s a different situation.

    • John Cedar

      Sounds like you support abortion in the case of terminally sick fetuses? It is an interesting reaction, the hatred and animosity that pro abortion folks have, even when it is only effecting the “rights” of a dead body.

      • Ed75

        No, it’s just that it would not be reasonable, in this situation, to do all this if the fetus were not only sick, and not only going to live a few years, but definitely would not survive long after birth.

      • geraldfnord

        Hatred? Animosity? Projection.

        I’ve never seen hatred an animosity more than among the people I’ve seen attempting to block access to clinics: yes, most of them just hold signs and shout out simple moral exhortations to the women attempting to enter, but some of them bear faces seemingly rapt in exultation as they got to hurl abuse while still feeling like they were the Good Guys. I assume, without real evidence except experience dealing with other primates, that they have very constricted lives and have built up a lot of anger at people deemed above them, and love having an excuse to let it all out at the people they considered to be beneath them.

        Anecdotes do not constitute good data, but I have encountered lesser such in mobs with which I had much greater sympathy, e.g. anti-war rallies and picket lines…quite possibly sympathy made me see them as less hate-filled, but maybe not: noöne there considered themselves to be taking direct orders from the Creator, a loving Father content to consign the vast majority of his children to Eternal Flame, a doctrine so hideous it must drive some mad.

        I hate noöne, except of course the clods who would pry my diëreses from my diabetically-cool, pink, hands, and hold animosity only to the extent that I wish those silly enough to disagree with my arrogant and entirely right opinions would wise up and agree with me in all particulars…. In this case, I mostly feel pity for the poor man left without an help-meet.

        • John Cedar

          I’m not sure what you said, but all in all its got a good beat. I don’t quible over PITA ProLife or if they are driven by empathy for the unborn or animosity toward those who kill the unborn. The troglodytes on either side are not such a curiosity to me as the folk who surly see themselves as open minded and intellectual.

    • 1Brett1

      The fetus is what, 14 weeks?

      • Ed75

        That’s what I heard, 14 weeks.

    • J__o__h__n

      “The other question is the health of the child – but only in the extreme case that it is known for sure that the child will not live after birth.” — Shouldn’t the family decide the factor to which the health of the child is relevant?

      • Ed75

        Well, no. That would be similar to saying that I can kill my child at home because he or she is my child. There are moral laws, laws of reason, that apply to all of us.


    It’s all part of the conservative notion of “freedom.” Just sign over control of your body to daddy Big Government.

    • Ms. Spider

      Only if you’re a woman.

    • geraldfnord

      I disagree: I think it a manifestation of the Devil’s Bargain between the Business Right and the Theocrats such that the latter get culture-war bones thrown their way in exchange for acceding to State policies that allow business to more thoroughly degrade the Theocrats’ constituency and most of the rest of us.

      It’s analogous to how Democratic leaders may back reproductive and gay rights but never make life _much_ more difficult for (e.g.) banking and insurance firms…though I see much more meat on those bones.

  • Guest

    Texas never lets science get in the way.

  • LinRP

    Leave it to Texas to never let science get in the way.

  • George Potts

    Let’s all agree that 4th trimester abortion is wrong.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

      Is that like the “third half of the show”? (Car Talk)

  • geraldfnord

    When your principles lead to absurd and horrific situations I think it meet to look at whether those principles could lead anywhere else.

    I think this a physical reductio ad absurdum examination of the notion that humble acorns are stately oaks.

  • creaker

    It sounds like the hospital knew she was dead and withheld that information – they should be held accountable for that.

    • geraldfnord

      Medical people generally hating anything that gets in the way of doing what they think best, I wonder if they were trying to throw the fruits of just such an attempt at the public to say’Is this really what you want? ‘

      I’d guess not, medical people generally not having the time or spare patience for such, but still.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    The “right to lifers” need to get a grip. I had wondered why the husband wouldn’t want the child to be born, they already have another child so it isn’t like he found a way to not have a child he didn’t want.

    Then I found the answer: in fact, the unborn child would not live, nor likely to even make it to viability given the deteriorating condition of the mother’s dead body.

    Torture the family for the sake of an all or nothing law? At least put some reality into the “mandatory life support for pregnant dead women”. If the child is near term and viable, MAYBE you can void the wishes of the mother and her family. Had someone given this woman her future, and it included her coming to this state near the end of her pregnancy, her “end of life” wishes most likely would have been “NO life support after the baby is born, NO life support at all if the child will not be viable”.

  • hellokitty0580

    It’s actions like Senator Carona’s that absolutely disgust me. This family is suffering over the loss of a family member and the hubris of this man is preventing them from moving on in the grieving process. What makes him think that he has the right, that he KNOWS BETTER, than this family in deciding what was best for this woman and her health? I get that people have specific beliefs about abortion and I respect their beliefs and the right to their beliefs, but the right to privacy and the right to abortion is the law of the land and that deserves respect as well. I am sick of people shoving their beliefs in other people’s private medical and emotional business. You want to prevent abortions? There are lots of ways to do it. Provide family planning, speak to people about safe sex and birth control, provide better societal and cultural support for women so its not so hard to raise children! But when push comes to shove and it comes down to the final procedure- BACK OFF. A woman has made her choice about her body and her healthcare and her LIFE. It’s her RIGHT. These things are hard enough without the righteous pushing their beliefs in people’s faces.

    This exemplifies how right to life has become out of control! What does right to life mean when a woman is brain dead without hope of recovery? What does right to life mean when a fetus is deformed? What does right to life mean when all the family alive with YEARS OF LIFE behind them and ahead of them are suffering all because of some fool ideology! Because really, if you want to talk about the sacredness of life, the action of those who are pro-life haven’t been demonstrating much respect for life.

  • longfeather

    You must assume that the legal advisers to the hospital socialized with local Texan’s at hospital charity events and political events, and therefore, knew the types of personalities involved in the power structure there, and the efforts they would go through to push a right-to-life agenda and the laws it passed.
    These are the mover and shakers in Texas, and knowing ‘the type’ they were dealing with, the legal advisers protected their financial assets by not unplugging the victim. They had to rely on judicial relief as much as the victim’s family.

  • Spiralingfire

    It’s pretty obvious that the conservatives in Texas view women as little more than incubators with no human rights. After all, women can’t be in charge of their bodies, their health, or their decisions. We are clearly too incapable to think for ourselves and must have our decisions handed down to us by a bunch of old, white men.

  • Michiganjf

    They didn’t “foresee” this??!!


    Pro-choice groups have always said it should be a choice between the doctor, patient, and family!

    Legislators ARE NOT qualified to make life and death decisions about healthcare!

    Get these right-wing legislators OUT of peoples’ personal health choices!

  • d clark

    This is just the Republofascists exposed. A woman is ONLY a life-support-system for a fetus. At least own up to it, Talibaptists!

  • James

    both Ms. Grimes and Mr. Pojman are seriously pissing me off right now

  • Ada

    You GO, Andrea Grimes! Yes, Ma’am! I’ve missed voices like yours since the passing of Molly Ivins.

  • DeJay79

    Joe Pojman – “We don’t ‘know’ what she was thinking or if she had even though about it.”
    So that means that we should listen to what YOU think she would want instead of her husband.

    I say no

  • lawyermomma

    Will all those who wanted to keep the fetus alive to term be willing to pay for the lifetime expenses of the probably severely disabled baby? Will they pay the medical bills? The therapies needed? The supports for daily life?

    • DeJay79

      nope after you’re born you’re on your own.

      • MrNutso

        It’s pro-pre-life.

  • Jim

    I am pro life. But I am a person of principles. There is no love for this woman’s welfare by this state. Please stop promoting political agenda when it is not there.

    • hellokitty0580

      Thank you. I am pro-choice, but I am glad to see people who are also pro-life acknowledging the life of the woman as well. I know you guys are out there! It’s too bad that there are a lot of zealots that overshadow the rational people.

  • MrNutso

    How about a discussion about at what point a pregnancy must be extended. Supposed it was discovered that she was only 1 month pregnant? Would the hospital insist that this woman be kept alive for another 8 months?

  • creaker

    “The fetus has hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, a possible heart condition, and ‘lower extremities that deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined,”

    It sounds like they would have waited until the fetus was viable, birthed it, and then pulled the plug on the baby.

  • J__o__h__n

    How much did the hospital spend to keep a brain dead body hooked up to machines for weeks?

    • MrNutso

      An whom is expected to pay the bill?

    • longfeather

      They will write it off as a political contribution.

  • Graham Gerdeman

    I don’t understand why no media outlet, including this show, will simply discuss the science of the matter. Personally, I support the wishes of the family, even if I would not necessarily do likewise, , but why can’t we get a qualified, non partisan physician to speak to the central question – is this fetus viable? Can “supporting” the functions of the dead mother enable the fetus continue to come to term?

    If not, the whole exercise was pointless. Only if so, then this moral question is with having.

    • lawyermomma

      No fetus is viable at 14 weeks, the age of the fetus when the mother died.

      • Clareita

        That is not the question. The question is can life support for a brain dead women allow the fetus to develop to the point it can be delivered. It seems pretty clear that at 14 weeks this is not true. However, at 20-24 weeks, there may be situations in which life support can get the fetus to the point of viability and a live birth.

        • lawyermomma

          There’s no life support for someone who no longer has life

          • Clareita

            Then use some other term. The same question remains – is it possible for a some sort of intervention to allow a fetus at a much later stage of development than 14 weeks make it to viability while residing inside of a brain dead woman.

          • DragonTat2
        • BHA_in_Vermont

          21 weeks is 0% viability. 21 weeks is 0 to 10%, 23 weeks 10 to 35%, 24 weeks 40 to 70%. And viability at that point depends on hard core medical care.

          In addition, severely premature babies do not generally fare well later in life.


          • Clareita

            What I meant is that if at the time of the trauma to the pregnant mother if the fetus is already at 20-24 weeks, can some sort of intervention be made to allow the fetus the time to get to 30 weeks. I’m not suggesting that the family should be forced to do this, just wondering if it is possible. Some women would want this intervention.

          • pennyroyal

            let’s stay with this case and let other cases deal with this.

          • pennyroyal

            hundreds of thousands of dollars….

        • pennyroyal

          No, that is the question. The decision to make out a death certificate should have been made back in November when she was found to be brain dead. The rest of your comments are not germane unless you and the State want to start playing god or doing a gruesome medical experiment on a cadaver.

    • Citizen James

      Good question. They are discussing that the fetus’ health was severely compromised by the lack of oxygen and the degraded state of the mother’s body.
      They also are talking about whether it is OK for the government to become the ward of the mother’s corpse, which is a very relevant question as well.

    • Chris Carlin

      It’s not a scientific matter. It comes down to values, which are subjective and outside the scope of science.

      • Elizabeth_in_RI

        But that is the problem – when there are medical issues at the core of the debate merely using “moral values” moves away from rational discussions to purely emotional arguments. Those arguments can never be resolved because there will always be entrenched sides. This case needed to be based on the medical facts.

        • Chris Carlin

          Go one step deeper. Our values of medical issues rest on subjective values, not rationality.

          How hard should we try to keep people alive? Science CANNOT answer that question since it is based in values/morals.

          Should we insist that a team of doctors work for hours to keep a single patient alive? Two teams? A whole city? Or maybe not try at all. Science can’t tell us what the correct answer is because there is no objective answer.

          These are fundamentally irrational issues. To try to rationalize them is to avoid the actual argument and fool ourselves.

          • Graham Gerdeman

            You are absolutely correct that science cannot answer the moral question of “how hard should we try to keep people alive?” That’s true whether we are talking about an otherwise nonviable fetus, a brain dead crash victim in a hospital, or any number of more intricate scenarios.

            Your last point about fundamentally irrational issues is also correct, so it boils down to who gets to make that decision. Do you get to make that moral judgement for yourself, or does the state make it for you? In cases with immediate and measurable impact on public health (vaccinations, for instance), there is compelling argument for state intervention. When there is not, it really comes down to imposing one’s own moral and religious beliefs onto someone else. This is why advanced directives and living wills are so important.

            The issue of pregnancy and the unborn is of course the stickiest question of them all. Yet regardless of one’s religious beliefs, It is safe to say that the fetus does not have ANY perspective on the matter, rational or otherwise. It is an innocent and empty shell. Concerned with nothing save it’s umbilical cord.

            It stands to reason to me that the only moral choice is to let that decision reside with the mother. In this case, even with an advanced directive (which the mother did not have), the hospital probably still would have acted the way it did. What’s more, sadly, if I were a hospital administrator, I would have done the same until a judge ruled otherwise. Because my hospital would be sued to the ground if the judge found differently.

          • Chris Carlin

            I appreciate your thoughtful response.

            However: “It stands to reason” <— there's the clue that you fell back into the trap :)

            There's no reason here. Allowing the decision to reside with the mother is one way to go, but without reason there is no objective way to claim that to be The Right way.

            After all, elsewhere in society–from schooling through employment of the young–we take the decision away from the mother/parents. Society is no stranger to claiming a social interest in vetoing parental decisions.

            So there is no one right way. Just different options with various levels of compatibility with the values of the particular society.

          • Elizabeth_in_RI

            True – but then we get into discussions of economics or resource limitations. And while we implicitly, and often explicitly via our taxation and budgeting choices, make those choices, typically as a society we aren’t willing to have those discussions.Somehow the idea that we put a “price” on a human life is considered wrong, yet we do it all the time. Science itself IS subjective, particularly medical science – for example who decides which illnesses we should research cures for. But to not include science as one component of this discussion is, I believe, irrational.

          • Chris Carlin

            Science is not subjective. It is the processes SURROUNDING science that is subjective.

            Take your example: while scientific discovery (hopefully) informs the decision of what to research, and then the research itself likely uses science, the actual decision is not scientific. The choice of area to research is a subjective application of values.

            In the end, this matter is fundamentally irrational. Mixing in some objective scientific fact to the decisions is likely a good idea, but since the decision is itself irrational, adding more science doesn’t turn the irrational into the rational.

          • Elizabeth_in_RI

            Actually science is just a process for making sense of the world around us. As human endeavor it is laden with subjective values. While we scientists hope that the process eliminates bias and subjectivity, in fact the record is littered with examples of how personal or cultural views impact scientific findings. The difference is if done well the assumptions upon which scientific observations are based are identified so that others can discern where the bias lies. In this type of case science can play a role by helping justify moral choices – i.e. since the fetus was not viable based on medical science it allowed the hospital to stop challenging the family’s decision.

          • Chris Carlin

            Science is an objective process for making sense of the world, in cases where objective sense can be made. It can’t always, which is why science can’t always be effectively applied.

            And that’s why we leave the realm of science to discuss public policy and social values. There is no science in the world that can tell us wrong from right.

          • Elizabeth_in_RI

            Actually as someone who teaches science and the interaction of science with policy, and the often unexpected consequences as science moves beyond our current legal, social and moral boundaries, I can assure you that while many of the tools and methods used by scientists are objective, the process itself is often quite subjective. That is often what makes so many of these issues so controversial – there isn’t in fact a correct answer. There are different views and different values, and determining who gets to foist their views and values off as THE correct point of view is how we get into these arguments.

            So as they say, agree to disagree…

          • Chris Carlin

            You’re free to assure all you want and still be wrong.

            Science is objective by definition. It is all about observation, about unquestionable, non-subjective measurements based around questions that pose objective queries that can be measured objectively. Objectivity is the entire name of the game of science.

            Anything that’s subjective is not science.

            Any part of “the process” (whatever you happen to mean by that) that’s subjective is not science. The process of reviewing a submission for publication, for example, is not science. It’s publishing.

            Anything without a correct answer is not science. Anything based on values is not science. Anything without possibility of a “THE correct point of view” is not science.

            All because science is objective to its core. The entire point of science is objectivity.

          • Elizabeth_in_RI

            WOW – your arrogance and over confidence is your own view points is stunning! The many people who regularly challenge scientific findings and the fact that we have a long history of how scientific findings have and do change as new information is uncovered challenges your statement – not that I think you can much. It must be lovely to live in your world where – but as another commented mentioned, it may be time for your to go back to school – here maybe you can start here: http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/whatisscience_01

          • 1Brett1

            Well said…I am scratching my head in thinking this person is actually a physicist.

          • 1Brett1

            “…medical issues rest on subjective values, not rationality.”

            Well…um…no. If someone has a heart attack, it isn’t standard procedure to amputate his leg. A type-one diabetic gets insulin injections not a tonsillectomy, and so on.

            In this case, the mother was brain-dead, even decomposing in her hospital bed; her fetus showed severe medical distress and was at a stage that is unviable outside the womb of even a healthy mother.

            There were clear, objective medical decisions to be made here, but the hospital was making inappropriate decisions that amount to malpractice. Decisions that are not generally made by trained medical staff. That is what is so astounding about this case.

          • Chris Carlin

            If someone has a heart attack it is standard procedure to treat him.

            Why? Why not leave him to die?


      • BHA_in_Vermont

        When your “values” do not include considering the suffering of the family when there is ZERO POSSIBILITY the child (the second person) would be born alive at ANY time in the future, you have no values.

        • Chris Carlin

          What you’re saying here, BHA, is that you so completely refuse to recognize values that don’t happen to correspond with your own that you insist they don’t exist.

          That’s very closed-minded and ignorant of you.

          • 1Brett1

            Closed-minded to keeping a brain-dead woman and an unviable fetus alive for months on end?

          • Chris Carlin

            Closed-minded to considering that other people have different values than your own.

          • 1Brett1

            Wow, your answers really go ’round and ’round in circles…Some people have extreme values that don’t serve society at all, even undermine its well-being.

            Your comments seem to be filled with nothing but platitudes and gross generalizations. The law, in this case, caused harm to all people involved. Can you cite a specific example that this law in Texas served all involved well?

          • Chris Carlin

            What it means to serve people well is also related to values. What one sees as serving well another will see as serving poorly.

            I’m sorry people having different opinions is annoying and complicated, but that’s life. If we were all cookiecutter people, all identical, then things would be simpler. But that’s not how we are.

          • 1Brett1

            That’s such a non-answer. There can be some consensus about what is good for society/serves society well.

            Do you think that this woman and her family were well-served by this law? Can you cite other examples of this law serving people in society well? These are simple questions germane to this law; they don’t beg some broader question about the definition of what “good” is, or how subjective the concept of “good” is, or whatever nonsense you are trying to introduce.

          • Chris Carlin

            YES! Bingo! You got it!

            There can be consensus….. and in Texas that consensus found value in the laws that affected this situation.

            So you’ve now settled on one of the big points here: “good” has nothing to do with this since “good” is based in subjective values. What matters is consensus–an entirely different matter.

            So anyone attacking this based on “good” is completely missing the point.

          • 1Brett1

            There was consensus in Nazi Germany, too. This “consensus” was orchestrated by political wrangling. Like Prop. 8 in California, where the Mormon church used its deep pockets to mount an avalanche of a political campaign, laws like this tip the scales in one direction that may not be good for society in general.

            Your point is a simplistic one. The kind of bland consensus you describe is one where all parties developing the view are equal and the majority/best view emerges to make the one best decision.

            You are trying to make this about some general argument about how society establishes its values or something. And, sometimes, as in this case, the powers that put a law into place get it wrong…I know, wrong according to who? right?

            You’ve yet to give your opinion, though, just some sophomoric argument about consensus and subjectivity. But, if we view each issue as it comes up as some generic exercise in pseudo-logic only, we end up with a society that has no morals or ethics, or one that has morals only of a majority/the ones in power.

          • Chris Carlin

            I don’t care to give an opinion because my personal opinion is completely irrelevant. Who am I to say my set of values is above those? I wouldn’t appreciate them deriding my set of values, and the flipside of that is that I respect their difference of opinion.

            In the end, this forum is full of people arrogantly (and often ignorantly) declaring that their values are The Superior Values, and anyone who thinks otherwise is inferior.

            I find that (my values, certainly) to be sad and disappointing.

            I, for one, appreciate diversity.

          • 1Brett1

            You say you are here to appreciate diversity and reason, etc., but so far, all you’ve done is attack the liberal view that is pro-choice and against these kinds of draconian laws. That doesn’t sound very appreciative of diversity.

            This law and its manifestation in this terrible case of the brain-dead mother and unviable fetus, are more than just the presence of diversity, the law has imposed harm on the woman and her family, who clearly felt differently than this law’s values. So, it’s a little more than a simplistic difference of opinion. So, the law didn’t allow diversity. You don’t acknowledge that, only condemn those whose views are liberal-minded, which is suspect.

          • Chris Carlin

            You’re still assuming this case is about the pro-choice issue. It is not.

            And you assume this law is draconian. From their perspective it certainly isn’t.

            I will give you a hint, though: I’m very liberal, with a very liberal persuasion and very liberal beliefs. Part of my liberalism is appreciating other peoples’ perspectives.

            Thus, I’m not here to bash liberals (I’d be bashing myself!) but to criticize closed minded, arrogant folks who seek to impose their values upon others, criticizing perspectives they don’t even understand.

            Liberal or conservative, I’m happy to criticize that, and THAT’s what’s going on here.

          • 1Brett1

            That’s such BS. You might be libertarian, but you aren’t liberal. If one looks at your profile, you seem to only “appreciate” conservative views and criticize liberal ones.

            You began your presence talking about the difference between subjectivity and objectivity, yet you are trying to apply objectivity to something you say to others is subjective.

            What you are doing is playing devil’s advocate, at best, and that is intellectually dishonest. And, I might add, you don’t have a particularly compelling way of expressing this so-called principled approach of yours.

          • Chris Carlin

            Yep. I’m definitely liberal.

            Playing devil’s advocate? Not at all. It really bothers me when people express such ignorance and lack of understanding of arguments that they’re rejecting, so I criticize that.

            So if I’m doing a poor job of what I’m not doing… I can live with that!

          • 1Brett1

            What part of the liberal platform, specifically, do you agree with? What part of liberal values makes you a “liberal”? What? that you say you are invested in diversity of beliefs? How can that be when you only seem critical of liberal ideas?

            One thing I am starting to agree with you on is my suspecting you are playing devil’s advocate isn’t accurate; you are just criticizing liberals but in an indirect way. You are just pretending to be objectively examining these issues.

            Also, at what point is a fertilized egg a person? At conception? at 10, 12, 14, 20 weeks? When a fetus is viable outside the womb?

          • Tyler Bolles

            What are the values that allow one to consider bringing a severely damaged fetus, extremely prematurely and unnaturally into the world? Valuing “life”? How about accepting when life is over? Death is an important and natural part of life, and postponing it for a baby with no chance of surviving to enjoy any sort of fulfilling life seems selfish and cruel…to they baby and its family. What value system supports that?

          • Chris Carlin

            Not yours, clearly, but then the whole point of recognizing diversity is noticing that there exist other people in the world with other values that might not correspond with your own.

          • Tyler Bolles

            And my question to you was what values DO…and it has nothing to do with “recognizing diversity”.

          • pennyroyal

            I have been in wards where severely damaged patients were kept, in pain, rocking in cribs for hours, incontinent, fed by a tube. Is that what you want Chris C.? Constant suffering.
            There are worse things than death and I hope you never encounter them during your lifetime.

          • pennyroyal

            you are a particularly callow young man. I worked as a hospice chaplain for years. When people are near death and/or terminally ill, they prepare for death. It’s immoral to keep someone going when they are dying. This lady, unfortunately was legally dead, brain dead. So stop saying your values are better than anyone else’s here. You need to study some medical ethics and until then, listen to those of us who have been up against these issues for decades.
            “What is the best thing to do?” is not determined by the state or some priest or judge or legislator. It’s arrived at with intelligent, mature discussions.

          • Chris Carlin

            Pretty ironic that you’re insisting on your own values in a comment in which you complain about someone promoting their own values.

            Either way, the only value I’m pushing is for one of tolerance and understanding. I haven’t actually shared my opinion on this whole thing at all.

      • 1Brett1

        Do your values (or any reasonable person’s values) coincide with keeping a brain- dead woman and an unviable fetus alive for months on end?

        • Chris Carlin

          Not my values, but certainly others’.

          I just happen to be an open-minded, modern person willing to allow that others have values and opinions different from my own.

          • pennyroyal

            not open minded and certainly not informed. Ever been around a rotting corpse???

          • 1Brett1

            All opinions and values have the same value? With the same level of subjectivity?

            Do those who murder doctors at abortion clinics have values we should all open-mindedly embrace? What about those who commit terrorist acts?

    • Graham Gerdeman

      Thanks for the thoughtful replies to my comment. I unfortunately could not listen to the rest of the program – it sounds like they addressed at least part of my question. Most of you seemed to grasp my point – no, lawyermomma, a 14 week fetus is not viable on its own, but it obviously is viable while in the womb. Throughout the development of this story, the woman has been continually referred to as an “incubator,” but I never heard someone from the hospital speak to whether she was actually functioning as an incubator – and continuing to nourish the child. In one talk program I watched some weeks ago, I never even heard them say that the fetus continued to have a heartbeat. Clearly, if we now know that she was literally rotting in her bed, then her body was not sustaining the cells within her – neither her own, nor those of her fetus. That is not subjective – it is objective and measurable – so why weren’t we getting that information?

      So Chris Carlin, you see it IS a scientific matter. One cannot make moral decisions without information. If the fetus is dead already – or not continuing to mature in utero – than there is no moral argument and we’re talking about nothing more than politics. If the fetus is receiving oxygen and nutrients and everything it needs to thrive, only then does this question come down to values – namely the rights of the mother over those of the fetus that cannot live without her. We collectively jumped ahead to that question without enough information.

      Unfortunately, too many of our politicians share your initial reaction. They don’t want facts. They just want to rule. And to divide us with their “litmus test” issues such as abortion and gun control.

    • pennyroyal

      I’ve seen descriptions of what happens to a cadaver that has tubes keeping it going. The blood pools, the tissues die and are susceptible to infection, the deteriorating tissues give off toxins into a bloodstream and the kidneys are poisoned. It’s particularly gruesome. Frankenstein’s monster laid out, inert.

      • longfeather

        And yet the Hospital was afraid of its board of directors, and the local right=to-life people, and kept this situation going on – i.e. Doing the maximum harm to the living while protecting the right of those they see as having potential of being raised from the dead. The doctors at the establishment refused to speak up, as they too are afraid of the local yocals.

  • Pia Vastatrix

    One thing I’ve been wondering is who is responsible for paying for care given to this woman after the family first expressed their wish that life support be discontinued.

  • Ada

    WHO are these men discussing “statutes” and “sections” of law when a woman’s dead body is putrefying in her hospital bed?

  • MrNutso

    Tom, not letting Ms. Munoz die, she was dead.

  • dt03044

    My question too. Who would pay the medical bills had the fetus been brought to the point of viability and delivered? Taxpayers?

  • longfeather

    You have to figure that the hospital was in the same position as any other individual being charged with homicide if something happened to the fetus, even if someone accidentally backed into a pregnant woman going to her car in a grocery store parking lot. He would be sued for injury to the fetus if such was the result.
    And, it would have been indecorous if the hospital had to endure picketing and shouting like women on their way to abortions have to endure, and how funerals for vets were disturbed by those Florida fanatics before set back law was enacted.

  • John_in_VT

    Scrolling through the comments I didn’t see anyone pointing out the irony that the same anti-Obamacare people are those pushing these laws. On the one hand they rail about the government getting between doctors and their patients and then turn around and legislate to do just that.

    • James

      Funny I was thinking it was ironic in the other direction

    • Chris Carlin

      One big difference is that Obamacare is about keeping care from people (supposedly to save costs) while this incident was about providing care that would have otherwise been withheld.

      • BHA_in_Vermont

        How ignorant can one be? The purpose of the ADA is to get medical insurance for MORE people so they CAN afford medical care. In no way does it keep people from getting medical care.

        What keeps people from getting medical care?
        INSURANCE COMPANIES making sure their execs and shareholders get lots of money.

        -THEY decide what medical care will be covered, regardless of what the doctor thinks is necessary. Set number of PT appointments for example. It doesn’t matter how well
        the patient is responding even if they are 100% following their
        “homework” exercises.

        - THEY decide which drugs they will pay for, regardless of what the doctor says is needed.

        • Chris Carlin

          Yes, that was the advertisement and even the intention, but that wasn’t the mechanism.

          The mechanism of the ADA was to get health services to more people by more tightly controlling it and cracking down on it. From penalties to gold plated policies through removal of choices, the mechanisms of the plan rest in keeping people from treatment and treatment options.

          Whether or not that will work out is a completely different matter than how it works in the text of the law.

          • 1Brett1

            What about the law, specifically, removes choices and keeps people from treatment?

          • Chris Carlin

            As Obama himself has said, the minimum care policies have specifically removed choices from people.

            There are many others in the law, but I’m happy to just cite that one because it’s stark, high profile, and admitted to by the man himself.

          • 1Brett1

            That sure is a BS non-answer. Can you cite your quote?

            What policies limit care that provided more previously?

          • Chris Carlin

            I can easily cite my quote: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-letting-people-keep-canceled-health-plans-for-another-year/

            Not only does Obama flat out acknowledge that this happened, but he took the extreme step of changing the law to make up for it.

          • 1Brett1

            You have a severe reading comprehension problem if you think this link is proof that the ACA’s policies restrict and limit access to care…this article is about people being allowed to continue their substandard plans they already had (before the ACA) for a year. Those who didn’t have one of those do-nothing plans can NOT get them now that the ACA is in place. They must purchase plans that have minimal coverage.

            It appears you are just playing a partisan neocon game.

          • Chris Carlin

            I said Obama admitted that people were being restricted. You asked for a citation, so I provided it.

            Quit dodging.

            Why was the law changed to allow an extra year? Because people were being restricted. Just as Obama said.

          • 1Brett1

            I meant for you to provide citation that actually supports your skewed opinion. Unfortunately for you, most other people reading this have good reading comprehension and understand basic concepts. So, those who can read know you make no sense and are just playing some partisan game, even pretending to make relevant supporting citations that don’t in reality jibe with what you are writing.

            If you are sincere rather than some neocon chain yanker (which, I hope you are the latter), then you need some serious help.

          • Chris Carlin

            Perhaps you should encourage Obama to adjust his comprehension as well.

            After all, I cited him because I figure he’s a pretty good authority on what the law does. So when Obama says the law has restricted options…. you might believe him.

            Still, feel free to reject him as incompetent and ignorant.

          • 1Brett1

            Except that he didn’t actually say what you claim he said.

            As far as your last sentence…don’t tell me you’re one of those who believes he is diabolically, deliberately trying to destroy the US so that he can rebuild it as a communist collective or something?

          • pennyroyal

            it’s ACA folks, Affordable Care Act

          • Chris Carlin

            If you’re going to go down that silly road of focusing on names, then you’re wrong too. It’s “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”

            Get your facts straight, man.

          • 1Brett1

            Calling it the ACA is perfectly acceptable. But it appears it was issue enough for you to edit your comment and change it from “ADA” to “ACA.” (Too funny)

            Aren’t you worried that skipping all of this school is going to endanger your graduation to 10th grade next year?

          • Chris Carlin

            What are you on about now?

            Also, boy I’m glad we have you to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t acceptable!

            (particularly after pennyroyal overrode Obama’s determination that “Obamacare” was acceptable)

        • RobertLongView

          The best “U.S. For profit medicine” in the free world.

      • pennyroyal

        no, that’s the present system with insurance companies trying to see how little they can pay out….

        • Chris Carlin

          They both are, but one is by voluntary association while one is by statute.

          • 1Brett1

            Insurance companies have always rationed services and have refused to pay for certain medical procedures; they will continue to do this if they can, legally.

            The ACA doesn’t restrict people from coverage, on the contrary it makes some attempt to prevent insurance companies from prohibiting coverage.

            You can argue that the ACA may not be effective enough in doing so, but to say that the law itself restricts care is ignorant. Just the provisions alone to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to those with a pre-existing condition or to prevent companies from dropping insurers arbitrarily improves coverage, not to mention the removal of caps on the amount insurance companies pay out in a year.

          • Chris Carlin

            Again, just because person A did something doesn’t mean person B isn’t doing it now.

            If anything, pointing to the insurance companies’ solution underscores that the federal government might adopt the same solution.

            Of course the law restricts people from coverage. It’s in the text of the law, providing that the authorities are to restrict coverage being offered.

            Then Obama flat out said that’s what was happening.

            Then people experienced it happening for themselves.

            I mean, your claim is so impossible to defend here that it borders on delusion for you to continue proposing it.

          • 1Brett1

            Well, alright, there, enough of this time-wasting, Christopher, now get back to your homework; you’ve skipped school the last two days and your teachers will be mad if you don’t complete that assignment.

  • Emily4HL

    I cannot imagine that the potential father and grandparents were not considering the possibility of having this child if it were possible. Why is everyone acting like they only cared about the mother? I’m sure that the family was thinking about both patients and came to their decision based on the knowledge they have.

    Who should speak for an unborn child? I think the father and grandparents are pretty good candidates.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Submit the bill directly, PERSONALLY, to those who signed this bill into law. If the hospital “pays”, it will just pass the expense on to other patients. The insurance company shouldn’t have to pay, the people who have insurance through that company shouldn’t have to pay and CERTAINLY Mr. Munoz should not have to pay.

  • Erma Sidelines

    two questions:
    what is the the definition of “fetus” in the texas statute?
    does the state of texas assume custodianship of the body of a deceased person?

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Caller Stephanie – GET YOUR FACTS straight:
    The BABY WAS NOT viable. Your “heart” goes only to your personal jihad for “no abortion under any circumstance”.

    Add Stephanie to the list of people to receive the hospital bill.

  • KF in VT

    You keep talking about “the hospital” – aren’t there individuals who are making decisions on behalf of the hospital. Who are those individuals. I always assumed this was a legal matter, that they were afraid of being sued. Can a “hospital” have political or religious views?

    • pennyroyal

      Hobby Lobby thinks it can disallow its employees from getting birth control. Certainly after the Citizen’s United decisions, all sorts of claims of ‘religious freedom’ are being made.

  • creaker

    I wonder if the scope of the law should be expanded, where firefighters, etc., no longer have legal control of their own bodies in respect to maintaining the life a a fetus?

    • Chris Carlin

      The difference is that firefighters tend to be adults.

      The core assumption here is that children cannot speak for themselves or decide for themselves, and so society has a responsibility to speak for them, forcing them to go to school and barring them from work for example.

      • J__o__h__n

        We need to force fetuses to go to school and end the soft bigotry of low expectations. Leave no fetus behind.

        • 1Brett1

          What? No 14-hour days at the glue factory? …That’s the trouble with 19th century London, factories were too soft on those lazy children.

          • RobertLongView

            How about 20th century NC and lax child labor laws? sign me — 3rd generation Tarheel Linthead.

          • 1Brett1

            Is NC still a state? I thought they seceded a few years ago…

          • RobertLongView

            Rebellion of our new Jim Demint Southland, hopefully real soon.

      • longfeather

        If this fetus was allowed to mature, it would never be competent to make a decision that it should live or die.

        • Chris Carlin

          …. your point?

          Somehow I doubt you’re suggesting that we should kill anyone who will never be competent (in your judgement) to make a decision about their own death.

          • RobertLongView

            Just make sure they can’t vote!

      • pennyroyal

        a fetus is not a person….especially before viability

        • Chris Carlin

          So you say. And others say otherwise. And there’s no objective way to settle that, since it’s a matter of personal values.

  • redd

    A hallmark of right wing thinking is,”keep government out of ours lives.” But evidently not when it comes to right to life issues. Here, legislation is right in the middle of a painful, family situation.

    • Chris Carlin

      So there’s a lesson to be learned there. Let’s get government out pf peoples’ medical decisions to prevent exactly this kind of case.

      Getting sidetracked with fingerpointing and calling people hypocrites distracts from actually improving the situation.

    • pennyroyal

      that’s libertarians…who are conservative on the economy but, traditionally, were liberal on social issues. People controlled their own lives and their own bodies, not that state. But with the advent of John Birchers becoming Tea Partyites, and conservative Catholics becoming evangelicals, libertarians now support limiting freedoms–to women!!

      • RobertLongView

        Taxes, where they first breed Astro Turf!

  • Chris Carlin

    What a biased, ignorant show! From the caller insisting that there MUST be some right wing conspiracy at work here… even if she didn’t actually know any participants, through Tom’s inability to grasp the fundamental assumption behind the regulation, that there were two patients, through the pro-choice guest who insisted on politicizing the whole thing WHILE COMPLAINING THAT IT WAS POLITICIZED.

    Something about abortion just makes the NPR crowd go a bit crazy.

    • 1Brett1

      Of course…there is absolutely no historical effort on the part of conservatives/Republicans/the Right-wing to restrict abortion rights/introduce and implement laws like this draconian one in Texas….sure, and no conservative/Republican/Right-wing politician would ever use such issues in a political way…sure.

      • Chris Carlin

        You’re grasping at straws, man.

        Painting a group in negative terms so as to make claim about what they’re doing instead of actually, you know, having evidence that they’re doing “wrong”

        Which is to say, you’re politicizing this.

        • 1Brett1

          Look at the proliferation of laws proposed by Republicans on both the State and Federal levels regarding restriction access to reproductive issues just in the last year in various states.

          BTW, I didn’t say anything about whether Republican efforts have been negative or positive; you imagined that.

          • Chris Carlin

            Oh, I think most people consider politicization to be negative, but perhaps you do mean it neutrally.

            Either way, it’s not playing politics to simply adjust laws so as to protect rights that were otherwise going unprotected, which is what the Republicans feel that they are doing.

            It doesn’t politicize death when murder is outlawed.

          • 1Brett1

            You consider taking the mother and fetus off life support to be murder?

            Okay, then.

  • Elizabeth_in_RI

    According to reports, the mother’s body was without oxygen for nearly an hour, which no doubt led to her brain death. Even assuming her body routed whatever limited oxygen there was in her bloodstream to the fetus, the fetus (or baby if you prefer) was also brain dead. To force the family to go through this process rather than be able to begin mourning the loss of both is gruesome and an example of governmental over reach that so many charge “Obamacare” with. We really need to have an open and frank discussion about QUALITY of life not just the cellular life both for beginning and end of life decisions.

    • brettearle

      It’s truly remarkable that the Hospital went ahead and did what they did–AFTER claiming that the Fetus was NOT viable.

  • Bruce94

    The caller, Stephanie, would evidently endorse the concept of so-called “personhood laws” that anti-choice radicals have been proposing with increasing frequency in state legislatures across the country. Wrapped in the rhetoric of dignity, these proposals and ballot initiatives would have the effect of damaging or eliminating women’s’ reproductive rights. This case and the elevation of fetal rights that a hospital in a very conservative community chose to promote over the objections of the mother and family and in opposition to standard medical practice, is just the latest egregious example of the right-wing War on Women unleashed by the religious right and embraced by some opportunistic or delusional politicians primarily in Red States like Texas.

  • dontlookup

    A century ago there was no life-support technology that could have sustained this mother and child. Their deaths would have been accepted as “God’s will.”

    Ironic, isn’t it, how Right-To-Lifers reject the technology (birth control) that liberates women and allows them to manage their family size and spacing (family planning), yet embrace the technology that reduced Marlise Munoz to an unwilling zombie?

    • Valerie

      AGREE!! And they are accusing the husband and her parents playing the role of GOD. How very ironic! Trying to keep a dead person alive with machines is playing the role of GOD.

    • MattCA12

      Well said.

    • John Cedar

      Why would you not draw a distinction between “birth control” and abortions?

      • dontlookup

        The terms “birth control” and “family planning” cover a wide range of methods (including abstinence). Rather than get bogged down in semantics, I chose to express my support for all the means currently available to women (and men) to control their reproduction.

  • John_Hamilton

    In this case as well as many other cases the granted power of religious fanaticism is a taboo subject. People who aren’t religious fanatics, which is most of us, only see religious fanatics as mere religious fanatics, without any psychology or life history. If we were to examine religious fanaticism we would find it to have little to do with religion, based in ego and power needs at the low end of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs).

    I had a confrontation with a religious fanatic recently, and it was predictable, looking back on it, how the person was willing to take it to great extreme until it was made clear that I was willing be even more extreme, should the person want to push it any further. The fanatic eventually broke, and then apologized, but the apology was the beginning of a new round of needfulness. I had to just walk away.

    We don’t, as a people, have the ability to see religious fanaticism as a mental health phenomenon. This is because of our infrastructure of social norms, media conventional wisdom, our education system, and fear of bullying from fanatics.

    The last factor may be the most important. The religious fanatic in my recent encounter was trying to bully me with fake sanctimony. I don’t take bullying. If more people stood up to bullying fanatics we wouldn’t have this problem. The state of Texas, with its violent cultural ethic (I lived there. Threat of violence is a way of life.) is a Garden of Eden for religious fanatics.

    One thing I can tell you, based on having lived in Texas, is that there is little embarrassment over this tragedy. I can see the conversations at cafes and hair salons across the state – “Shoulda let the baby live…” There’s a lot more brain-deadness going on than one person.

    • RobertLongView

      Texas Sharia Law?

    • John Cedar

      Your diatribe could be repeated with equal validity in regard to all the blue states, only substitute the phrase illiberal fanaticism.

      In this case, the illiberal fanatics are justifiably outraged to a point, but they would be equally outraged if the mother were kept alive for a mere hour to birth a nine month old fetus. Perhaps it is you that is the bully toward religious fanatics.

      • John_Hamilton

        Diatribe is defined as a forceful and bitter attack against someone or something. What I wrote, though forceful, wasn’t bitter and wasn’t an attack. It may not matter to you, but words have meaning, and when you misrepresent their meaning there is a word for that. It is a common practice among “right wingers.”

        Though I have perceptions and beliefs that are similar to “liberals,” I am not one of them. I’m not anything, just me. There is no such thing as a “blue state.” It is a media generated meme, the first time I have ever used that word.

        Since you have problems understanding the printed word, I’ll explain a bit further. What I wrote was an analysis based on education and experience. I have been around a number of fanatics in my life, “Christian” and otherwise.

        Just to ward off any diatribes, I should mention that I engage in a number of spiritual practices, though none of them are officially “Christian.” I do some Buddhist, Hindu, Native American and sometimes even Sufi (a branch of Islam) practices.

        Of course, that may ward in a diatribe. I tried “Christianity,” seventeen years of “Catholic” education, then walked away, without rancor, never to return, except for weddings and funerals. I always take Communion. If someone offers blessings, I get in line. There’s an easy trick to this. I don’t think of myself as a “sinner.”

        • John Cedar

          It is doubtful that it matters to you, but very often, words have meanings, not just meaning. Feel free to substitute any other word for diatribe, as the peculiars of that meaning were not peculiar to my point.

          Since you are obviously in a state of denial, I likely write this for the mere exercise (or is it exorcize), but until you recognize that there are two or more sides to the issue at hand and you become self aware of why you chose to devote all of your comment to ad hominem attacks against only one side, then you are nothing but a stinky head. Crazy people can be correct.

          • John_Hamilton

            The last sentence, “Crazy people can be correct,” is the most interesting, saying much about everything else written. The previous, name-calling, is what usually happens with challenged people when challenged.

            Still, it’s worth raising a question or two. Though words can have more than one meaning, that doesn’t mean that they mean just anything. Otherwise, we would be unable to communicate. Maybe you could explain your definition of diatribe, and how it applies to what I wrote.

            You also might want to back up your assertion that I am “obviously” in a state of denial. There are two parts to the assertion, one being “obviously,” the other being “state of denial.” What might I be in a state of denial about?

            Though you have learned of the term “ad hominem,” you fail to understand its meaning. It refers to a personal attack in lieu of substance. What I wrote was substantial, not a personal attack. Personal attack would be a waste of time, as would be name-calling.

            Try again. I will answer, mirthfully.

          • John Cedar

            You continue to quibble over the irrelevant minutia even after I conceded that you are welcome to pretend your diatribe was something other than that and I would pretend that I agree.

            My concept of a diatribe would necessarily involve bitter or angry criticism of considerable length. You are in obvious denial, in that you deny you are not bitter or angry in your criticism of religious fanatics. Oh wait…on second thought, you could just be lying. In light of suddenly realizing that, I must also concede, it is not obvious that you are in denial.

            I am sure you use the term “brain dead” as a term of endearment. And your anger/bitter free observations about religious fanatics are purly clinical, and you simply haven’t gotten around to relating your observations of parallel behavior by illiberal fanatics, which you would need travel all the way to these fora to routinely observe.

            You are correct that your personal attack against religious fanatics was substantial, but it was not substantial to the topic at hand, which puts it squarely under the definition of an ad hominem logical fallacy.

            “The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can think,
            feel and act in a completely moral way. [...] Some people are so highly
            socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally imposes a
            severe burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt, they
            continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find
            moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a
            non-moral origin. We use the term “oversocialized” to describe such

          • John_Hamilton

            Wow. So many words for so little. I’ve seen the type before. I’ve also seen how they end up. This isn’t attack. It’s observation and experience.

            Still having problems with the meaning of diatribe, I see. Also denial. Denial is a psychological term as you are attempting to use it, and does not mean disagreeing with someone else. It has to do with denial of circumstances in one’s life, of which a random person on the Web would have no knowledge. Especially one who defends his arguments with “Crazy people can be correct.”

            The rest is just gibberish, unworthy of response. It’s been fun, but at this point I realize I’m dealing with something in the realm of mental disability of one sort or another. I might respond the next time, but it likely won’t improve the situation. Think what you want. See what it gets you.

          • John Cedar

            It is a breath of heaven that you offer me permission to think what I want. So often you illiberal types are about policing thought. Allow me to reciprocate and give my blessing for you to continue to have your thoughts…even though they are mostly hijacked by your ill temperament.

            One thing we do have in common is we don’t have much use for bullies, The irony being that you are one. Perhaps your self loathing is why, when a religious fanatic backs down and apologizes to you, you cannot even bring yourself to accept the apology but instead walk away. There is only one religious fanatic who comments here frequently. Anyone who is not a glutton for punishment would surly choose to live in a town full of hims over a town full of yous.

          • Guest

            I somehow missed the apology. I see I’ve become a “liberal type” instead of a “liberal.” Breaths of heaven come in many forms when you’re consciously breathing.

            Projecting again, I see. As I said before, see what it gets you. And as I said before, I’ve seen the type before – random combinations of words, seemingly erudite, but not in the least. I’m old enough to have seen the type many times. Lives of great suffering. There is a way out. Meditate. Do good works. Take a vow of silence.

          • John Cedar

            I clearly placed an “i” in front of “liberal”, each time I typed it here.
            You clearly spoke of an apology in your original diatribe…er um clinical observation, and now you claim that you missed it.
            Clearly, there is nothing seemingly erudite about my words, I pick them from a mere and modest collection of 10,000 or so that I am acquainted and I string them together into phrases I surely have heard before.
            Clearly, you are slipping, since you didn’t argue with my use of the word ironic to describe your hypocrisy.
            It is clearer than ever that your feigned interest in words and their meanings is just a pathetic debate technique. Sadly, it is one that you didn’t need to resort to, since your denial of fact would have served as deflection enough by itself.

            There is a way out for you. First you must admit to yourself that you are not particularly bright. Next you must realize that your options in life are not limited by your modest intelligence, so much as by your bitterness. Lastly, you should come to terms with the fact that all of your thoughts are inordinately driven by your bitterness, which is born from your unwillingness to accept your lot in life.

          • John_Hamilton

            If you can’t afford getting some help there might be some community outreach. More likely is parental coverage, so I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

  • OnpointListener

    Comment from SMU Law Graduate:

    Roe v Wade was decided based on more than just the privacy rights and the health and well being of the mother. The basis for parts of the decision was the belief that physicians should be able to practice medicine freely without fear of prosecution. Thus, the decision provides exceptions to the viability standard when the health and well being of the mother may be at risk.

    The Munoz case is a text book example of what can happen when the legislature and criminal justice system insert themselves into medical decision making. Statutes are being enacted all over the country that do not recognize or honor the complicated personal and medical factors affecting the decision making process.

    • DragonTat2

      Akin to practicing medicine without a license.

    • brettearle

      Apparently, the Hospital conceded that the Fetus was not viable.

      And they went ahead and kept on life support, for the mother, in any case.

      Doesn’t that indeed suggest a decision that unequivocally trumps the Law–regardless of any factors related to the Legislature or the Criminal Justice System?

      The Hospital’s Hubris, it seems to me, is even greater when one considers what it conceded about Viability.

  • Bruce94

    In the Roe v. Wade decision, specific limitations on the rights of the mother WERE identified, and they take effect after the fetus develops to the point of viability typically at 24-28 months into a pregnancy, as I understand it. According to the Supreme Court, it’s only at this point that the state has a compelling interest in protecting “potential life.”

    While you may not agree with this aspect of Roe v. Wade, it’s still the law of the land, and recent attempts to grant the fetus rights of a person prior to the point of viability (i.e. “personhood” legislation) have fortunately failed up to now.

    These attempts along with tighter regulations on abortion clinics in order ostensibly to “protect the health of the mother,” are just a smokescreen for undermining a woman’s right to choose under Roe v. Wade.

    As for your emphatic assertion that anyone who cares about the fetus should not be dismissed as a “bible toating, tea party, right-wing republican,” I would agree. However, the data suggest that those who would use the “personhood” justification or other arguments for overturning Roe v. Wade are mostly just as you describe. You might find the chart in the following link interesting in view of the fact that you don’t have a problem with the Texas law that set the stage for this tragic scenario:


    • pennyroyal

      then there’s the Paramount Right to Life rhetoric, with its sacralizing the fertilized egg, zygote, fetus as having more rights than the woman in which it resides. Extremism in the service of the theocrats who want the US to turn into The Midwife’s Tale, a complete dystopia.

      • Bruce94

        Exactly! Odd, I was just playing “Georgia on My Mind” when you posted the above comment. The Paramount Right to Life amendment was introduced by a bipartisan group of Georgia legislators back in 2007 (but you probably know the history far better than I). As I recall, it was championed by the Thomas More Law Center in the hopes that Georgia would become the first pro-Life state to establish “personhood” in each of its citizens from the moment of fertilization.

        And yes, I certainly agree that this episode does indeed evoke “extremism in the service of theocrats” who, if given the opportunity, would return us to 18th century Americana (the Midwife’s Tale?)–a libertarian paradise where the oppression of women (not to mention racial and ethnic minorities) in certain regions of the country was the norm.

        • pennyroyal

          no, I didn’t know the history of GA. Will have to do more research.

          What I might add is to suggest the writings by clergy on treatment of children in US history as relevant to this. Philip Grevin’s Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological Impact of Physical Abuse includes the childhoods of Billy Graham and George H.W. Bush, etc. etc. His other book The Protestant Temperament details the colonial period when children were neglected and abused without mercy and without legal protection.
          I think these show the roots of the extremism, the over-control of women (Huckabee’s comment about women’s libido), and thus children’s minds. This tragedy was an instance controlling a woman’s body after her death!!

  • Chris Carlin

    And if this was only about the life of the dead woman then that might be relevant.

    • pennyroyal

      the fetus was a potential life, when a pregnant woman dies, her non-viable fetus dies. That’s reality.

  • MattCA12

    The hospital’s interpretation of the law was preposterous and morally incredible. A 14 week old fetus inside a dead mother is also dead. Period. Turning a corpse into some kind of lifeless biomass to grow a fetus to full term was a shocking path to take. Shame on the hospital leadership for allowing this to happen.

    • brettearle

      Do your think it was a religiously inspired motivation to refuse to pull the plug?

      A politically inspired motivation–based on financial solvency, in the future?

      Or the motivation… would it possibly come from a fear of Liability–coming from pro-life organizations?

      Or any combination of the above?

      • MattCA12

        There was no life sustaining treatment available to her, since she was dead. The statute could not have applied. So my only hope is that the physicians involved recognized this and were overruled by Administration. Any of the reasons you give are possible.

        • brettearle

          I am certainly not a specialist in this Law.

          But isn’t the crux of a part of this issue is whether the fetus is viable, or not–and that said viability will dictate a part of ongoing procedure and oversee a part of the final decision on the bearing of the law?

          Your assumption above has got to take into account the viability of the Fetus.

          I realize that the Judge ruled that because the mother was dead, there were no grounds to continue life-sustaining support.

          But the hospital had conceded, prior to this decision, that the Fetus was not viable.

          Wouldn’t the decision have–very possibly, on appeal–been more justifiably challenged (at least, partially), had the Fetus been recognized as Viable?

          • pennyroyal

            no one appears to want to speculate…and I think that is wise. Let’s argue the case at hand and not speculate.

          • 1Brett1

            I agree…at 14 weeks, this fetus was not viable in any stretch of the concept, so this wasn’t a simple adherence to any existing law; it did use the law in an attempt as cover, though.

          • pennyroyal

            “the law is an ass” in this case. A brain dead woman with a 14-week old fetus in her uterus is legally dead. The fetus not being viable, the only decent thing to do is not mount a fool’s errand on behalf of the state of TX, but withdraw treatment, sign a death certificate, and return the body to the family for a decent burial. That preserves her dignity and her memory intact, as a good and decent person. This way the family has to grieve her death AND deal with the trauma of these long months of draconian imprisonment and torture of a dead body.

          • John Cedar

            Not that it would effect your hysterics either way, but I would not think it possible to torture a dead body. If it were, some might be offended that my librul state of NY has as a default, that we are all organ doners when we obtain driving privileges.

          • pennyroyal

            there are military laws against soldiers mutilating or defacing the bodies of enemy combatants. This is but one example of civilized behavior toward a corpse. There are norms and laws and codes of conduct and this violated many of them. Ms. Munoz was dead, a cadaver and yet the state and hospital continued it’s gruesome, doomed experiment on her body. Sounds like torture to me, if only of her family.

          • John Cedar

            I appreciate your pigheadedness in defending your mischaracterization. However the fact remains that the corps was not being tortured. Since the gruesome treatment of the corps was not for the purpose of inflicting pain or punishment…on anyone, the word “torture” is still misleading, even after you have changed to subject of the torture. The purpose of sustaining the corpse was not to mutilate or deface the corpse either.

          • pennyroyal

            well it certainly got your and other people’s attention. Civil societies flourish when we have certain civilized norms and codes of conduct. I’ll retract the word ‘torture’ (though I believe her body was tortured), if you will look up the willful defacing of the corpses of dead soldiers–and civilians–in Afghanistan, just because thy could. The legislators and the hospital did this horrid experiment on a dead body, also because they could.
            Thankfully, human decency prevailed in the form of a judge who said pregnant women die every day and (unfortunately) any pre-vital fetuses within her uterus die, too. It’s a tragedy but there it is. Reality.
            No, the purpose was not to mutilate a corpse but it is a huge example of legal over-reach and willful usurpation of a family’s rights in a civil society.
            That caused them trauma and harm to see her body penetrated by tubes and needles, a tracheostomy tube sucked out dozens of time a day. We must respect the human body even in death and in this case, especially (!) in death. Her son will grow up knowing that his mother’s body was harmed and disrespected by a Republican legislature in TX is willfully zealous in forcing a hospital into malpractice.

          • MattCA12

            Had the fetus been viable then I believe it’s a completely different picture, and I would agree that the hospital would have been correctly following Texas law. As it was, the hospital took the decision to essentially “grow” the fetus to viability within the womb of a cadaver. A morally shocking decision if ever there was one.

          • brettearle

            The hospital conceded, well before the final decision, that the Fetus was not viable.

      • RobertLongView

        Nanny State Gubmint!

      • pennyroyal

        go on wiki and look up Dominionists. These guys in TX are the Texas Taliban. They want to control all aspects of women’s lives. They’ve shut down most of the birth control/abortion/reproductive healthcare clinics in TX, cut money for healthcare… it’s official misogyny.

        • brettearle

          I’m pro-choice.

          But I don’t think you can see this as official misogyny.

          Their point of view is that the Life of the Child is ultimately the essential legal matter.

          It can certainly be perceived as misogyny. But I don’t think that is what is motivating them.

          • pennyroyal

            there is no law that the fetus has a paramount right to life over the mother or in this case ‘over the mother’s dead body.’ The fetus was not viable even when medical interventions are were (mercifully) stopped. The extremism of your position is stunning in its implications. Shall we have every pregnant woman in the US visit the police station ever week to ensure she is still pregnant? do you want an Orwellian state like that?

          • brettearle

            You completely missed my point.

            Your dogma and your zealotry prevented you from seeing what I was actually trying to say.

            I was NOT talking from my point of view.

            I was speaking from THEIR point of view.

            I did not believe that they were coming from the point of view of misogyny.

            It doesn’t mean that I agree with their point of view.

            I don’t.

            But your EXTREME indignation does a disservice to the issues.

            You ascribe positions to me, that I don’t believe– and then attack them.

            That is UTTER ignorance..

            Then you go on your merry way, oblivious to what I was saying.

            That tells me you won’t, and can’t, debate issues, competently.

            And that you are, rather stunningly, a hindrance to your own cause.

          • pennyroyal

            get a grip, there are wealthy dominionists and uber Catholics who would indeed like to turn this country into a theocracy. Big pizza magnate founded Anna Maria law school to fill legislatures with lawyers committed to overturn Row-v-Wade, just for starters. on the other side Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University has a law school doing much the same. I won’t be responsible for your or anyone’s ignorance or blindness.

          • Guest
          • brettearle

            You DON’T know what you are talking about.

            Because of your ignorance and your narrow-mindedness, and your extreme indignation, and your zealotry, you are ascribing positions to me that I do NOT. believe in.


            The point is that the pro-life movement may have misogynists in their ranks. But the majority are committed to what they consider to be a way to save the lives of the unborn.





          • pennyroyal

            wow, you are reactive. Stop shouting and ‘get a grip’.

          • brettearle

            Your kind of ignorance deserves CAPITAL LETTERS.

    • pennyroyal

      like a gruesome experiment by Josef Mengele, this torture of a cadaver so the state of Texas could show its control over women

      • Ed75

        Well, one can’t torture a cadaver … and the child might be a girl … but on another subject thanks for the book recommendation of ‘The harlot by the side of the road’, there are indeed many such scenes in the Bible. Stephen King said that the scariest book ever written is the Bible. But I would disagree about commentary – many Christian communities shy away from commenting on some passages of Scripture, because their theological tradition is not strong enough (See Mark Noll’s book on Evangelicalism and it’s theological challenges), or because it doesn’t fit into their ideas. But Catholicism is the fullness of the truth and has explicated all of Scripture, and continues to do so. On Genesis, the passage you mentioned, I would suggest the book ‘Sermons on Genesis’ by St. Augustine, 4th century, where he explicates it section by section, and other Fathers also.

        • pennyroyal

          many thanks for the commentary and continued good will toward my posts. Also appreciate the recommendation for Mark Knoll’s book on Evangelicalism. I have a couple of his books (The Old Religion in a New World) from theology school and trust his writing and thinking. Even though I don’t share his personal theology, his is a good mind at work trying to explain and help readers explore their own faith understanding.
          Have you read any of the liberation theologists? Gustavo Gutierrez: A Theology of Liberation.
          I’ll send an article on the new pope who is not a liberation theologist but is integrating some of it into his papacy in regard to his . Wish I had your email.

          • pennyroyal

            here’s the article, coming from Argentina he was forced to choose between LT and Jesuitical Catholicism. Seems have integrated them. The Pope vs. Capitalism

          • Ed75

            I haven’t read any of the liberation theologians, when John Paul pretty much condemned it as set in a Marxist framework I stayed away. The present pope argued against it when he was in Argentina. Sure – my email is ehelmrich@iona.edu. I’m glad you like Mark Noll, a very decent guy it seems.

  • pennyroyal

    she was dead, and her husband was the person making decisions on her behalf regarding her body.

  • Prairie_W

    I gape at the ultimate absurdity of anyone — including the law — presuming to know better than the woman carrying a child — in this case, barely a fetus. Tread very carefully there.
    If you believe in god, you may believe differently. But in the USA, god doesn’t get a vote, at least not according to our laws Forget your prejudices and your desire to impose your own values (or not so much imposing values as imposing emotions, indulging in hysteria) …playing god or nanny or know-it-all. Climb down off that perch of self-righteousness and let the mother/family decide. Back off.

    • Chris Carlin

      You say that without seeming to realize you’re imposing your values from a self-righteous high horse while criticizing others for what you perceive to be the same.

      • 1Brett1

        And if your views defend this law and the result of this law that manifests itself in the horror that is this case with this brain-dead mother and fetus, then you are operating from a standpoint of hypocrisy of the worst kind. So, anyone’s views but your own are self-righteous and impose values on others? The values of this law impose values on others and in the worst way: they cause physical harm.

        • Chris Carlin

          Defending the law? Eh. I wouldn’t say I even agree with the law, much less defend it.

          I’m not particularly defending anything but reason and civility against those who would ignorantly attack perspectives they clearly neither understand nor care to understand.

          • 1Brett1

            What is the perspective that would keep a brain-dead woman and unviable fetus alive for months on end? Please, you say you understand that perspective, so then explain it/defend it. So far all you’ve done is give some bland statements about diversity and different perspectives being good for society, which is an oblique way to side-step defending this law in any intelligent or direct way.

          • Chris Carlin

            As I’ve said above, the argument is that the fetus is a human child. Based on that irrefutable axiom, the relevant Texans argue that saving the life of a child take precedence over the wishes of an effectively dead person.

            That’s an entirely reasonable argument.

            I might or might not agree with it based on whether I personally accept that axiom and that set of values, but that argument cannot be logically disproven.

          • 1Brett1

            “…the argument is that the fetus is a human child. Based on that irrefutable axiom.”

            No, in this case, the fetus is not a human child but an unviable fetus that would not make it to term inside this brain-dead woman. At 14 weeks, and showing signs of being unable to function, it is dead, as dead as its mother.

            “the relevant Texans argue that saving the life of a child take precedence over the wishes of an effectively dead person.”

            Earlier you argued that authorities stepped in because no one was available to make any such decision, when there was the fetus’s father and family. So, it wasn’t simply over the so-called decisions of a dead person, although she made her wishes known when she was still alive.

            Also, Texas, like the rest of the US, is not a democracy but a representative government, so these are not merely ordinary citizens making these decisions but representatives. And, you can’t be naive enough to think that politics does not often play a role in developing these policies. There are countless politicians that say they are making decisions for all constituents but are in reality making decisions for just one faction of their constituents.

  • Prairie_W

    Suppose you were asked, as a condition of keeping the fetus, apparently damaged, alive, to accept the full moral, physical, and financial responsibility for that being, birth to death? You personally, as a long-term commitment? Acceptable?

  • Elizabeth_in_RI

    I’ve been mulling over the insanity of this issue – or rather the ideas that drive this sort of issue in Texas. This is a state with policies that oppose sex education in schools, that allows for so-called conscientious objection and other laws limiting access to contraceptives, that limits access to abortion, and has laws that provide for nearly full rights at conception (the point of this case). But once that child is born, the state takes nearly no responsibility for that life. I suggest the lack of responsibility for the born based on Texas’s decision not to expand Medicaid,despite the very large number of poor uninsured in Texas (among the highest % in the nation), the rampant use of the death penalty and a variety of other laws that show little support for these fetuses once born. All of which leads me to question why Texas laws are so focused on the unborn when there is such need among its citizens?

    • pennyroyal

      TX legislature these days is afflicted with a monomania and an obsessive disorder about women, our sexuality (Mike Huckabee warning about our women’s uncontrolled “libido”–though he’s from AK), our right to human agency and be able to make decisions on our own behalf.
      Elizabeth, I’m from southeastern MA and I wish there were some way we could get in touch. In any case, thank you for your strong and clear advocacy on behalf of women.

    • Chris Carlin

      Perhaps you should spend more time understanding Texas and less time judging it. Maybe go live there for a few years to get a handle on what they’re actually saying.

      Many of your claims above stand in stark contrast to what I experienced living there and watching their politics play out. Maybe you’ve been fed a skewed version of events from questionable sources. Watching it first hand is very different.

      For example, the state takes no responsibility for the life of kids? Having dealt with child services first hand, I saw quite a different picture.

      Rampant use of the death penalty? You say that, but I see plenty of institutionalized resistance to it. Maybe not as much as you personally would like, but certainly not so little as to be “rampant.”

      But in the end, you assume a need among citizens that reflects you projecting your personal values upon other people. It could be that they simply have an attitude different from yours–needs different from yours–and failing to recognize that, you’re ending up with a very wrong picture of what’s going on.

      Diversity. It’s this crazy thing that makes the country great.

      • 1Brett1

        Being pro-choice allows for diversity (women can either have or not have abortions); being “pro-life” doesn’t allow for diversity (no one should have an abortion). When the pro-life movement says that abortion is against their beliefs, what they mean is that their beliefs don’t allow anyone to have an abortion because abortion is wrong; this leaves no room or tolerance for others’ beliefs, and no diversity.

        • Chris Carlin

          #1: this is not at all about pro-choice/life. This is about a situation where there was no mother around to decide whether to have an abortion or not. There was no immediate person to choose, and so legal complications dwarfed that issue.

          #2: claiming that your stance is superior to the pro-life stance (ESPECIALLY while misrepresenting the pro-life stance) is against diversity of beliefs in a far more direct way

          • 1Brett1

            #1: The father/family are no one? A person’s end of life wishes count as nothing? The state should supersede all of these parties and concerns to uphold what? A belief in promoting laws that are pro-life, that’s what.

            You are kidding yourself if you think this is anything other than a pro-choice or pro-life issue.

            #2: Where did I make any such general claims of superiority? I have my beliefs, sure, as do you and anyone, and I am not afraid to express them. I do believe the pro-life stance is intolerant of diversity of views by its very nature (if abortion is illegal, then those who need an abortion can’t legally have one, which prevents them from having their beliefs/views).

            Show me where I misrepresented the pro-life stance?

          • Chris Carlin

            You’re kidding yourself if you think this is a pro-life issue.

            (see how easy it is to make assertions?)

            The issue of people making decisions for other people is the complication under question here, not abortion.

            From the pro-life stance, women having abortions are directly imposing their wills upon children without due process. That is pretty damn intolerant of another human, to just go and kill it. Meanwhile, pro-lifers simply ask society to find consensus that it be prevented.

            Thus, the more intolerant of the two is the abortion side since it’s acting directly without seeking to convince society as a whole.

            The pro-life stance is about asking society to reconsider, and about leaving room for tolerance of children.

            To frame it as generally intolerant is to mischaracterize it since tolerance is arguably the central motivation.

          • 1Brett1

            “The pro-life stance is about asking society to reconsider, and about leaving room for tolerance of children.”

            No, it’s about making abortions illegal.

            By your comments you must feel that fetuses are children. You might have a point if it were a fully developed fetus of a healthy mother close to term, but not in this case of a brain-dead mother and an unviable fetus of 14 weeks.

  • pennyroyal

    Rethugs in a recent debate for Lt. Governor are unrepentant about Munoz and “vow to err on the side of life” (and push creationism in the schools). http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/28/texas-gop-candidates-agree-teach-creationism-and-always-err-on-the-side-of-life/

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