by GENE HOWINGTON
If the war against women’s rights concerns you, avoid Louisiana. In yet another strike against the rights of women, a bill came before Gov. Bobby Jindal this week that is truly horrifying. Of course, he is expected to sign it. Submitted by state Rep. Austin Badon (D), House Bill 1274 specified that if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant, the doctor must keep her on mechanical support unless her will specifically states that she wants to be taken off life support if she is pregnant. This language concerning living wills was added when the bill originally went to the State Senate as was language putting the decision power in the hands of the family (submitted by State Sen. J.P. Morrell, (D) New Orleans), but as is increasingly the case, “compromise” was required by those in the “living women have less rights than potential persons” contingent and the language about the patient’s will and family was dropped. The doctors will have to notify family members about the continuing life support, but the law is now silent on those two important matters. This is naturally an invitation to future litigation (and an example of the powers of the silence and editing). However, there is another reason this is a bad idea that may not be readily apparent on the surface.
Sure, the bill is a direct attack on women’s rights from the so-called “Pro-life” contingent but it goes far beyond simply attacking access to abortion services and into interfering with with testamentary rights in the form of advanced directives. In doing so, it not only deprives women of the right to choose their own health care but it attacks a right some would argue is even more important than choice in pregnancy: the right to die with dignity. It also puts a huge burden on the family. Keeping a loved one on life support for the duration of a pregnancy is no cheap proposition and the fallout could be families buried under medical debt for procedures and processes taken specifically against the will of the patient and/or their family. Such prolonged care could cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Driving an already stressed family into financial ruin because some meddling half-wit pol thinks wrongly that a potential life has more rights than an existing person hardly seems just and is a perfect illustration of the oxymoron that is “compassionate conservatism”.
If all this sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Recently in Texas, a hospital refused to remove a pregnant woman (Marlise Munoz) from life support despite her husband’s wishes. She was brain dead with no hope of recovery. They eventually complied with a court order to remove life support.
We’ll see if Jindal goes forward and signs this bad piece of legislation into law, but if the past is any indication, Jindal has no problem attacking your rights in the name of currying favor with fringe electoral constituencies. From a legal perspective, this marks a new and troubling expansion in fronts in the War Against Women.
What do you think?