Texas and California; Different Sides, Same Coin


It seems the pro-lifers, conservatives, the statists, the progressives, and those wanting a single payer healthcare system have something in common this week. Tragedy.

In Texas a brain-dead woman is being kept alive against her family’s wishes because she is pregnant. Texas law protects the unborn child from termination even if the family wants life support ended. The father of the child, and the woman’s husband, is concerned because of the length of time there was no oxygen to his wife and hence the unborn child. He, along with her parents,  also state that his wife would not want to be kept alive on machines.

In California, a teenager, died during a routine operation. She has been declared brain-dead by her doctors, which under California law means they are under no obligation to sustain her, or make it so that her family can move her to a long-term care facility. As far as the doctors and California law are concerned the girl has died. They have issued a death certificate. The hospital refuses to perform requested operations on her because in their words, “they don’t operate on dead people.” The last public appearance by the family has them being able to move the girl to a facility, but only with a ventilator as the hospital would not provide the operations requested for food and water tubes.

In both tragic cases, the States in which these people live, have taken the human right of healthcare proxy out of the hands of the relatives and imbued itself with the power to decide medical care on an individual. They have decided by fiat that the State and the State alone has a vested interested in the well being of the individuals in question and it is their right as sovereign to decide someone’s medical fate. Life and death decisions no longer reside with a person and their loved ones. It is now the decisions of a bureaucrat, a legislator and  the unseeing eye of the governmental cog that decides a human being’s most important decisions.

The irony here is that these episodes have brought together some of the most ardent opponents. There is the pro-Life groups that are fighting to keep the pregnant woman alive. Not considering her family, her husband or what her wishes would actually be in this situation. When asked, one pro-lifer actually had the temerity to respond, “what pregnant woman wouldn’t want to see her pregnancy through?” Somehow the woman’s family would have that answer, but none of the pro-lifers care to hear it. Perhaps the pro-life movement, which is generally made up of conservatives, hell-bent against Obamacare and on trying to get the government out of people’s medical decisions, need to rethink their position. They need to consider the long-term effect of forcing a dead woman to have a child against her family’s wishes. Even the recently passed Texas anti-abortion law allows abortion up into the 5 month, and this patient was 14 weeks along, plus the law has exceptions for second trimester abortions. The legislature understood that at times, abortion is a personal decision and something that only can be decided by private individuals.

So where does the government get the right to interfere in the decision-making process of the family when a woman cannot decide for herself? Since when is the government’s rights paramount to the family’s? Since when are they the healthcare proxy for a dully married couple? Where do they get the right to interfere in life and death decisions under the sanctity of marriage? Afterall isn’t it the conservatives, part of the pro-life movement, that define the sanctity of marriage as one of God’s blessing and that the State has no right to change its definition to allow for gay marriage? So how can the State change the definition of marriage to allow for the interference of the State on marital healthcare decisions, something between two people who by law are actually considered as one person?

Then there is the tragedy in California. A teenager goes into the hospital for a routine operation and dies during the procedure. The child is hooked up to machines that will keep her alive. They breath for her but she receives no  sustenance. The hospital, according to law, provides medical tests that states she is brain-dead. Under law she is no longer alive and what the family wishes about her long-term care does not matter. Under law, they have no legal right to challenge the hospital’s decision and no legal right to demand that the hospital provide their child with the necessary surgeries to remain alive (even though courts did hear their petitions). They were given until a certain day to find a care facility for their child, but the hospital would not help them nor provide support.

The ultimate decision, the decision a parent has to make concerning the care of their offspring, has been taken out of the hands of this family (this is not a case where social services had to intervene as in child abuse situations). This family has lost the ability to care for their child as they see fit and to believe in miracles that one day she would wake up. No one said the parent’s beliefs have to be based upon science or anything beyond religious tenet. But do they not have their right to try for a miracle if they wish? What right does the state have to tell a parent how they are to deal with such a tragedy and with their child’s death? If the parent can find a care-facility (they apparently did) and some insurance company would pay for it (the facility is a charity), where is it the business of the state to decide that these parents do not have the right to fight for their child as long as they are able?

Does it all come down in the end to financial expediency and limited resources? Some say yes. If that is the case, persons better hope that they always end up on viable side of the government’s balance sheet. (Not that governments don’t bend their budget to suit other purposes and projects of course.)

So pro-life conservatives and Statists have come out in force this week. Yet it is a convoluted and disoriented reality. The ones who support single payer healthcare, the ones who think it is fine to have a faceless individual decide whether you are worthy of medical care, think that the Texas anti-abortion law is a violation of the patient’s rights. Somehow it is not OK for a State to decide when an abortion is valid or not. But for everything else, as in the California case, it is simply fine. Family, and parental desires be damned.

Meanwhile, in the California case, the pro-lifers and conservatives side with the family against the power of the State and the progressive Statists. They counter that the State has usurped parental rights and parental decision-making. It is a harbinger of the future, when the State can decide if you are worthwhile enough to be kept alive. But it seems that in the Texas case of a forced pregnancy State intervention, against the family’s wishes, are just fine.

Some may say that for pro-lifers it is all about life. For progressives, their end game is all about healthcare for everyone. But it is more than that, it is still about State interference in your private and personal decisions. It is the State interfering in medical decisions between spouses and medical decisions on how to raise a child. It is the Nanny State deciding that the individual in question no longer has any human rights, because by law, they turn that person into a “thing” devoid of humanity and respect. It is the Nanny State drawing a line as to who is worthy of life and who is not. Which is all fine and dandy until it is you, or someone you love, who is caught in the web of State decision-making, expedience and callousness.

About Elise Ronan

Political independent, US Constitution, Bill of Rights, special needs advocate
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