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Texas House Panel Hears Testimony on Bill Regarding End-of-Life Care for Pregnant Women

Texas House Panel Hears Testimony on Bill Regarding End-of-Life Care for Pregnant Women

April 17, 2015 — The Texas House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday heard testimony on legislation (HB 3183) that would clarify state law on end-of-life care for pregnant women, the Kaiser Health News/Texas Tribune reports.

According to the KHN/Tribune, the measure remains pending in committee (Ura, Kaiser Health News/Texas Tribune, 4/15).

Background

The issue gained national attention last year after a clinically dead pregnant woman, Marlise Muñoz, was kept on mechanical support at a Texas hospital against her family's wishes.

In refusing to end mechanical support, hospital officials had cited a state law that bars withdrawing "life-sustaining treatment" from a pregnant patient. Muñoz's husband filed a lawsuit against the hospital, and a state district judge in January 2014 ruled the state statute did not apply to Muñoz because she was brain dead and, therefore, legally dead. In compliance with the judge's order, the hospital ended mechanical support for Muñoz.

Last month, state Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D) introduced HB 3183, which would remove the state provision that bars withdrawal of treatment from a pregnant woman (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/16).

Testimony Details

During testimony on Wednesday on HB 3183, Muñoz's husband, Erick Muñoz, and her mother, Lynn Machado, expressed their support for the measure. Erick Muñoz said state lawmakers should "[g]ive families the opportunity to avoid the pain and suffering that [his] family" had endured.

According to the KHN/Tribune, several committee members also expressed concern over keeping pregnant women on mechanical support against their wishes.

Meanwhile, Cecilia Wood, a member of Concerned Women for America, spoke against the measure, saying that pregnant women should be kept on mechanical support until their fetuses can be delivered or are no longer viable (Kaiser Health News/Texas Tribune, 4/15).