BATON ROUGE, La. — The governor of Louisiana is considering whether or not to sign a bill that requires doctors to keep brain dead women on life support if they are at least 20 weeks pregnant.
The House and Senate overwhelmingly passed H.B. 1274 last week, a bill that now is in the hands of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal for signing.
“It is the policy of the state of Louisiana that human life is of the highest and inestimable value through natural death,” it reads. “When interpreting this part, any ambiguity shall be interpreted to preserve human life, including the life of an unborn child if the qualified patient is pregnant and an obstetrician who examines the woman determines that the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is twenty or more weeks and the pregnant woman’s life can reasonably be maintained in such a way as to permit the continuing development and live birth of the unborn child…”
The legislation was introduced by Rep. Austin Baden (D), and originally contained a clause added by the Senate that would give family members the say in whether or not to keep the mother alive. However, it was later removed in committee to protect the life of the child unless the mother specifically had language in her will requesting not to be resuscitated if pregnant.
“Do we really want to pull the plug of that healthy baby?” Baden asked his fellow lawmakers during the deliberation process.
The bill follows a controversial situation that unfolded earlier this year in Texas, where a judge ordered that a pregnant woman be removed from life support following a lawsuit from her husband and parents.
As previously reported, Marlise Munoz, 33, died in January following the order, along with her unborn baby girl. She had been on a ventilator since late November when her husband Erick, 26, found her unconscious in the middle of the night. According to Mr. Munoz, the woman got up after 2 a.m. to check on their infant son, and when she did not return, he got up to check on both of them, finding his wife collapsed on the floor.
Doctors believe that Munoz suffered a blood clot in her lung, which caused her to collapse. Her baby, who was fourteen weeks gestation at the time of the incident, had a measurable heartbeat, but prosecutors argued that she had multiple deformities. Local television station WFAA reported that Mr. Munoz “felt the child would not have a good quality of life if it had gone without oxygen for so many hours,” and therefore, he did not seek to continue the pregnancy.
However, some disagreed with Munoz’ reasoning and said that even children with deformities should have the right to life.
“Why was baby Munoz denied even the possibility of survival? It appears that the baby girl’s disabilities determined her value in this case, and sadly, it was wrongly decided that her life was not worth saving,” said Jennifer Mason of Personhood USA. “According to ABC News, family attorneys may have blamed a lack of oxygen for the baby’s apparent medical issues incorrectly, according to medical experts. Regardless, disabled children are created in God’s image, and still have a right to live.”