108 Hopefuls Differ on End-of-Life Issue

We have found an issue where the Republicans competing in House District 108 have a difference of opinion. And it relates to Marlise Munoz, the brain-dead pregnant woman who was removed from life support only after a judge ordered a Fort Worth hospital to do so.
 
The three Republicans — Court Alley, Morgan Meyer, and Chart Westcott — participated in a forum at today’s Park Cities Rotary Club luncheon, as did Leigh Bailey, the Democrat who will face the winner of the GOP primary on March 4. The last question from moderator Chris Davis was about the Texas Advance Directives Act, which some politicians have said needs to be modified. Davis asked the candidates whether they agreed and, if so, what modifications they would make.
 
Alley spoke first. After touting his pro-life stance, he said, “If someone is on life support, and there’s a question about the sustainability of their life, or how that end-of-life decision is made, that is always something that needs to be made by family.”
 
Bailey, who announced that she’s expecting her second child in July, agreed with Alley. “There is no reason the government should have been involved in this,” she said. “This is a big-government issue. And the government needs to back off now.”
 
But Meyer seemed to be saying that Munoz should still be on life support, carrying that fetus to term.
 
“Our duty and our top priority is to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Meyer said. “And so in this particular instance, certainly the family’s wishes need to be heard. But as a father who has seen three sonograms, that has been there for three births, I could not imagine taking that step. There is absolutely, positively, no way.”
 
Westcott, who spoke last, stressed that “life” is the first of the fundamental rights spelled out in the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But he also said, “This event should not be used as a political football.”
 
I’ve posted transcripts of the candidates’ complete answers to the question (each was given only one minute) so you can judge for yourself.
 

Court Alley
“I’m part of the Republican Party; we’re a party of life. We should always be proud of that and promote it, and I am definitely a pro-life person. I think this falls under the banner of pro-life, to be perfectly honest. If someone is on life support, and there’s a question about the sustainability of their life, or how that end-of-life decision is made, that is always something that needs to be made by family. That is always something that we need to take the greatest care of. That is not something that should be left up to people that are counting dollars and cents. I’m a conservative. I believe we need to be very careful with money. I’ve lived that life myself. But this is one instance where I think we need to be very attentive and in tune with the idea that life is precious; it should be protected. The specifics and the complexity and the nuance of modifying the law, I would have to speak to more clearly after I had seen what other alternative are out there, but you better believe it needs to be addressed.”
 
Leigh Bailey
“Thank you for asking that question. This is one of the reasons I’m running. I talked about political extremism at the beginning of my speech; this is what I’m talking about. Don’t you think that husband loved his wife? Don’t you think that victim’s mother loved her? Both of them wanted the life support ended. I agree with Court when he said it should have been a family decision. There is no reason the government should have been involved in this. This is a big-government issue. And the government needs to back off now. I’m sorry; I feel very passionate about this issue, and I just want to point out in the remaining time that I have that this was an unfunded mandate, which means unless that insurance company picks up the cost of that bill, that poor family is going to have to pay for it.”
 
Morgan Meyer
“This is where the differences are going to begin. For me, I, like Court, am pro-life. And I think our duty and our top priority is to protect those who can’t protect themselves. And so in this particular instance, certainly the family’s wishes need to be heard. But as a father who has seen three sonograms, that has been there for three births, I could not imagine taking that step. There is absolutely, positively, no way. And it’s one of those things where I am obviously ‘less government, less government, less government.’ But government certainly has a role in protecting those that cannot protect themselves.” [He said a few more words that are garbled on my recorder.]
 
Chart Westcott
“I could piggyback almost directly off of what Morgan said, in that one of the most fundamental rights, as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but the first of all those is life. So, yes, we all want less government in our lives, but we still want our fundamental rights and freedoms as Americans — Texans — to be protected. And the first of those is life. This event should not be used as a political football. It’s wrong. You know, this poor woman and her family, they found themselves in a difficult situation, but it should not be turned into a political football. And I think the right thing to do, right now, is to let them mourn and let us all reflect on what this means. Thank you.”

8 thoughts on “108 Hopefuls Differ on End-of-Life Issue

  • February 7, 2014 at 7:40 pm
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    Dan,

    I want to clarify my comment from today as it did not fully reflect my position on life and on this particular case. While I have tremendous sympathy for the Munoz family, I disagree with the Judge’s decision to take Mrs. Munoz off of life support because it ended any chance of the baby’s survival. When an unborn child’s life is totally dependent on the mother, we must err on the side of protecting that child’s life. As I said today, every life is precious and should be protected. I’m honored that my strong pro-life position has earned me the endorsement from Texas Right to Life.

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  • February 7, 2014 at 11:38 pm
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    Well, darn. Court came across as both sensible and compassionate until his clarification. I consider myself to be very pro-life. For me, that doesn’t include pumping oxygen into the lungs of a dead body and artificially circulating blood through its veins. This was not a comatose body, it was a dead body. A body that by Mr. Munoz’s own account was already starting to putrefy. Even the SMU professor who helped to write the law said it was never intended to apply to brain dead patients. That’s because (as the professor said and the court agreed) brain dead patients are legally dead, and “life support” by definition can’t be administered to someone who is dead.

    I know a lot of people think the unborn child should be been given time to become viable. I get that, and I know those sentiments come from a good place. But pregnant women sometimes just die. It’s awful and tragic, but it happens. And the idea of gestating a baby for weeks or months inside the womb of a cadaver is ghastly. Like something from a Robin Cook novel, or The Matrix.

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  • February 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm
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    I guess that I don’t understand running on a “pro-life” platform. Do they think that there are people who are anti-life? I suppose that there are and have been crazy despots who have practiced genocide and were anti-life. But. Come. On. There is no one who is not pro-life in this country. So move on to real issues. Maybe someone can tell me who in Texas is anti-life.

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  • February 9, 2014 at 11:51 am
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    I agree that Court did sound like he made sense until his clarification. This is a decision that should have been left to the family alone. Government should not have been involved and thankfully the Judge made the right decision.

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  • February 9, 2014 at 2:36 pm
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    The mother is dead and the fetus is not viable, or normal. Yet Meyer “absolutely, positively” “could not imagine” disconnecting the machines. I’d say he lacks imagination.

    And the idea that he disagrees with Bailey because he saw his children’s sonograms and attended their births, when Bailey has actually given birth and is currently pregnant–well, she also has personal experience behind her stance.

    I thought politicians learned their lesson after Schiavo.

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  • February 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm
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    @1st anon – it is not that people are anti-life it is that they are pro-choice. That choice being whether to abort/end a pregnancy. There are many in this country as passionate about the stance of having a choice versus pro-life where you have to see the pregnancy through to the end. I am not a pro-choice person but that is why you have people run off of the pro-life or pro-choice. You wouldn’t call it anti-life because the anti has a negative connotation with it where pro- something sounds better.

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  • February 10, 2014 at 10:49 am
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    Sadly, the three young men will never get it. They will stick firmly to their “pro-life” stance even if it makes absolutely no sense. Keeping a dead woman hooked up to machines so that her fetus with hydrocephalus and deformities that made it impossible to determine gender might live is insane. Common sense is clearly lacking. All they are thinking about is I am pro-life, no matter what.

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  • February 12, 2014 at 10:37 am
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    To these 3 pro-life gentlemen, I would like to strongly encourage, no, I challenge you to go spend just 24 hrs. caring for a severely handicapped baby. Go rock a baby whose head is the size of a basketball due to hydrocephalus and a body too weak to undergo the surgery needed to insert a shunt. Change a baby’s feeding tube, one that will always be their only means of nourishment. Change that baby’s catheter and colostomy bag and know that those tubes will be the only way that child will ever eliminate. Hold that baby’s weak little body and feel it shutter and wither in constant pain and discomfort knowing that baby doesn’t even have the strength or capability to cry much less coo or laugh or smile. I have cared for those babies, and it will rip your heart out. Oh, don’t get me started…when people start playing God something has truly gone wrong. Mrs. Munoz, unfortunately, died. All of those machines were not keeping her alive; there was no life. That poor innocent little baby, even if held close to term, would not have lived without drastic human intervention and possibly not even then. There would have never been “life, liberty, and HAPPINESS,” for that baby. Go spend 24 hrs. with a baby dependent on tubes, suction, and pumps that lives in constant pain, and then decide if you truly believe that baby is HAPPY. God did not die and appoint the Republican law-makers to make his decisions!

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