Her name is Marlise Munoz. She suffered what is believed to have been a sudden brain embolism. She died on her garage floor and was dead for an indeterminate amount of time before she was found and rushed to the hospital. It was too late to save her life,
but, in her cooling body, a tiny collection of cells had been forming into a 14 week-old fetus. Marlise and her husband, Erick, were delighted about a new baby to join their toddler, but it was not to be. What followed was a nightmare as Erick discovered that the hospital felt bound by state law to keep life support going in order to save the nonviable fetus. Predictably, it became big news. And suddenly, her medical right to privacy was over and her case became public fodder. Finally, a court ruled that a hospital cannot call a dead person their patient, and the hospital complied with the order to cease life support. Marlise's body was released to Erick Munoz for burial, after several heart-wrenching weeks of publicity and public spectacle.
I cross-posted the following on my Facebook status this morning because as much as I hate to admit it, we're already in dystopia. And I'm scared.
I shouldn't know that her name is Marlise. I shouldn't know that her never-to-be-born fetus would be named Nicole by her grieving father as he finally laid her to rest, or that Nicole was so deformed and underdeveloped that her legs were mangled and it was impossible to tell by sonogram (I'm sure, transvaginal) whether or not she was a boy or a girl until she was expelled. I should not know that Marlise's dead body was probed with such a transvaginal wand or that Nicole had severe water on the brain and that she had probably been deprived of oxygen long enough when her mother died of a brain embolism that, had her mother's body been found 10 minutes later, nobody would have denied they were both already gone.
But I do know these things, and I hate that I do. I hate knowing that I share the most intimate details of this family's private medical business. I hate reading about it and I hate following it and I hate having a political opinion about it.
Because it's none of my business.
It's not the media's business.
It's not the state GOP's business.
It's not the religious right's business.
The cheap political grandstanding which has surrounded Marlise's and Nicole's right to die when it was their time has stolen their lives from us. It has tainted their memories with the forever hue of controversy. Nothing either of them ever did or were, will be recalled without the mention of the legal case against a hospital attorney who misinterpreted the law and created these headlines out of her death.
And that's another kind of theft, and another kind of death. Marlise's life was stolen from us. Her memory. Her smile. Her dreams and the fact that she dedicated her life to saving others. Her love for her husband and child and her family. Her favorite book or movie. We will never know any of the things which made her Marlise.
I put myself in Marlise's position for a moment, although I never can, and I am utterly horrified that this can happen in America today. I find myself vowing to fight even harder for the basic right to be able to navigate myself, my family, and my womb through our private medical needs without the government outlawing the best medical practices available, using the best science and my Constitutional rights, and not some Bronze-age Abrahamic religion misinterpretation, as their guide. Depressingly enough, all four Texas GOP members gunning for office in a recent debate vowed to close what they consider to be a loophole by passing a law which says that any dead pregnant woman must be sustained in order to save the fetus.
Where are my heroes, Texas men? Will you stand for my rights the way Erick Munoz stood for Marlise and Nicole? Or will you allow the same creepy men who plastered Marlise's family business all over Fox & Friends to continue to control Texas women? What will you do when they come for your wife or daughter with those same laws that put the Munoz family through this living, undead hell? Will you stop thinking of these issues as simply "women's issues," then? Will you vote with us when it hits home for you? Or is this tragic story close enough for you to see the danger we've been telling you we women of Texas are facing?
Stand with us. Husbands, fathers, brothers, cousins, friends. We can gain back our medical rights, but we have to do it with a solid Democratic win in Texas.
Stand with us.
Stand with Marlise and Nicole.
Stand with Erick Munoz.