AUSTIN - Yesterday, Rep. Elliott Naishtat (Austin) filed HB 3183, which would repeal the pregnancy exclusion that prohibits women from exercising an advance directive once they are diagnosed as pregnant. The bill, known as Marlise's Law, is named for Marlise Muñoz of Fort Worth, Texas.
"This bill would give women assurance when delineating their wishes regarding extraordinary medical interventions during end-of-life care that their wishes will be followed," said Rep. Naishtat. "HB 3183 would allow physicians, health care providers, and medical institutions to honor a woman's wishes and preserve the doctor-patient relationship. This bill does not preclude a woman from receiving medical treatment."
An advance directive is a written statement of a person's wishes regarding medical treatment made to ensure those wishes are carried out should the person be unable to communicate them to a doctor. This is a critical protection offered to all Texans, with the exception of pregnant women.
Current law precludes a pregnant woman from having her advance directive complied with, e.g., refusing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, life-support or any other life-sustaining treatment. HB 3183 would not prohibit a woman from selecting treatment choices that include extraordinary measures for continued life-sustaining treatment in the event that she is pregnant and incapacitated.
"Being pregnant should not prohibit a woman from having her personal decision respected. The law should reflect the consideration a woman puts into planning the treatment she wishes to receive, or not receive, when she is no longer able to express herself," said Rep. Naishtat. "Planning for end-of-life care is a deeply personal decision-making process for all persons, including those who may be pregnant."
In 2014, the health care providers for Marlise Muñoz were restricted by law from following her express wishes not to be subjected to extraordinary medical interventions at the end of her life. The pregnancy exclusion required Mrs. Muñoz's health care providers to perform life-sustaining medical procedures, even though she was legally dead, against her wishes and the wishes of her family.
"Marlise planned and communicated her advance directive, and the law precluded her wishes from being trusted and respected," said Rep. Naishtat. "This bill would prevent other families from having to go through tragic, painful, and emotionally draining ordeals similar to the Muñoz's."
Legislative Director for Rep. Elliott Naishtat