Monday, January 13, 2014

Limited means what I say it means - or something to that effect

Sometimes it's easy to forget that Gov. Rick Perry and his wingnut disciples claim to believe in limited government. As I've pointed out in the past, when Gov. Perry talks about limited government he's referring to government assistance and regulation for anyone who isn't a corporation or wealthy individual.

From the same folks who believe that deciding who can and who cannot get married, and from the same folks who believe that the state should have the power to decide who lives and dies comes the latest misadventure in limited government.

Leonard Pitts, Jr., of the Houston Chronicle, brings us up to date on the tragic circumstances enveloping Marlise Munoz and her family.
Marlise Muñoz was 33 when she died. 
She was at home when she collapsed from an apparent blood clot in her lungs. It was an hour or more before her husband, Erick, found her. He says doctors pronounced her brain dead, though John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, citing privacy concerns, has declined to confirm that diagnosis. 
It is, at any rate, nearly a month and a half since this happened, yet Marlise remains hooked up to life support. Her mother wants her removed. Her father wants her removed. Her husband wants her removed. He says his wife - like him, a paramedic - specifically said she never wanted to be kept alive by artificial means.
The hospital, however, ignored the family's wishes and has continued to keep Ms. Munoz on life support. Why, might you ask? It's because of a Texas law that prevents hospitals from taking a pregnant woman off life support. It turns out that Ms. Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant at the time.

Now I don't pretend to be an expert in medicine, but I know enough to understand that a 14-week old fetus cannot survive outside the womb.

There is no greater purpose served by keeping Ms. Munoz on life support and subjecting her family to torture of watching their loved one lie in a bed unresponsive with no prospect of ever living without being hooked up to a machine. The doctors know this. The hospital administrators know this. But no one is willing to do the right thing.

Let's think about this for a second. We, as a state, have told a family that we are going to keep their dead family member "alive" for the sole purpose of extracting a fetus from her at an undetermined time. Once that fetus is removed from her body the machines will be disconnected and she will finally be allowed to die. And the family will have to relive her death a second time. They must also cope with the fact that their loved one is being used so we can attempt to harvest a child from her body.

What is the fate of this child? How long will we continue to torture the family? Who will foot the bill if the fetus has suffered birth defects as a result of the mother's trauma?

I'm sorry, but we don't have a stake in this situation. The only person whose voice needs to be heard is Ms. Munoz' husband. He's the one who will have to raise the child after this is all over. The state, while requiring his dead wife to be hooked up to life support machines, will wash its hands of the matter once the baby is delivered. Any complications or birth defects will be the sole responsibility of the family -- even though they have already said they don't want this outcome.

Rick Perry wants limited government if we're talking about taxes or regulation or the ability of folks to carry weapons around with them at all times; but, when it comes to matters that affect a family - well, we can't go limiting the power of the state, can we?

No comments: