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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.]
“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.”