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Choosing Between Life and Death

After collapsing on her kitchen floor from an apparent blood clot, Marlise Munoz was declared brain dead by a Fort Worth hospital. Her parents and husband told the doctors that Munoz would not want to be kept on life support. But as the family prepared to say goodbye to wife and daughter, the doctor gave them sudden and shocking news: the hospital would not terminate Munoz’s life, because she was 14 weeks pregnant. In a Tuesday New York Times article [1], authors Mary Fernandez and Erik Eckholm write,

More than a month later, Mrs. Munoz remains connected to life-support machines on the third floor of the I.C.U., where a medical team monitors the heartbeat of the fetus, now in its 20th week of development. Her case has become a strange collision of law, medicine, the ethics of end-of-life care and the issues swirling around abortion—when life begins and how it should be valued.

Munoz’s parents and husband do not want the baby. They want the doctors to pull the plug, per their original instructions. Munoz’s father, Ernest Machado, told the Times, “All she is is a host for a fetus. I get angry with the state. What business did they have delving into these areas? Why are they practicing medicine up in Austin?”

Munoz and her husband have a 14-month-old son, Mateo. The Times story includes a picture of the three of them: parents’ arms curled close around their infant son, smiling softly at him.

The hospital, in refusing to terminate Munoz’s life, is following Texas state law: it is one of two dozen states, according to the International Business Times [2], that prohibits doctors from cutting off life support to pregnant patients. The Texas law was passed in 1989, and amended in 1999.

Now NARAL Pro-Choice America has launched a petition to take Munoz off life support. ABC news quoted [3] their petition in a Wednesday story: “The Munoz family deserves better than this—and it’s up to Texas attorney general Greg Abbott to show them that the state of Texas respects their wishes and their privacy.”

“If your goal is to legally enshrine the notion that pregnant women are incubators first and humans second, keeping their bodies alive to grow babies long after their minds are gone is a perfect way to do it,” wrote [4] Slate author Amanda Marcotte. She said the family has expressed some fear that “the loss of oxygen that was enough to destroy Marlise Munoz’s brain probably did serious damage to her fetus.”

This story throws the difference between pro-life and pro-choice advocates into sharp relief. Views on life’s meaning, origin, and purpose weigh heavy in such debate—and few would deem this an easy decision for the family (or hospital) to make.


But at the same time, after viewing the picture of Erick and Marlise Munoz with their infant son, one can’t escape a feeling of bitter and painful irony. How could a father, so obviously loving and cherishing one child, want to terminate the life of another? Would it be wrong to extend Munoz’s life 19 (or fewer) weeks, to perhaps save her last child?

Munoz’s father told [4] the Dallas Morning News, “What they’re doing serves no purpose.” But isn’t there purpose in preserving the life of your grandchild? I don’t mean that keeping Munoz on life support would be easy; her current condition must be excruciatingly painful for her husband and parents. The words of a writer and commentator can sound trite and preachy alongside such loss and perplexity, and that would be my last intent. There must be a wrenching agony in seeing your daughter, your wife in the prime of her life reduced to a forestalled corpse—dependent on hospital machinery as her body carries to term a child that will be born long having lost any hope of knowing its mother.

But in the midst of this grief, the life of that unborn child seems to present a respite in the sorrow, a fresh beauty in the midst of death. They may not yet know whether their baby is “damaged.” But even a damaged baby is beautiful. This life could bring promise amidst the pain. This life could comfort them in the midst of their grief and their loss.

Follow @gracyolmstead [5]

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#1 Comment By TexasTea On January 9, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

Conservatives give lip service about keeping the government out of the healthcare decisions of citizens, but when it comes right down to it, they want more government control over healthcare than anyone.

#2 Comment By balconesfault On January 9, 2014 @ 12:37 pm

How dare you – and how dare the State of Texas.

This should only be a matter of the family’s will – and for every point you make there is a valid counterpoint for someone much closer to the situation at hand.

Perhaps the family feels that there is something inhuman and perverse in keeping the brain-dead body of the mother alive via artificial means simply to serve as an incubation chamber for a fetus.

Perhaps the father, who will already have the responsibility of raising his 14 month old son, is concerned that he will be unable to do so effectively while also having to be a single working parent and dedicate potentially an enormous amount of time to a baby born with severe problems.

Perhaps he is even concerned that saddled not only with an infant son, but with a seriously damaged newborn, he will not be able to find a woman who he will find desirable as a mate who will also be ready to take on the enormous responsibilities that family will represent?

Perhaps he does not want to bring a damaged child into the world that he feels unready to raise … and does not want to pass it into Texas’ extremely poorly funded social services system to make its way through life with whatever de minimum lifestyle Greg Abbot and his GOP counterparts are interested in paying for?

#3 Comment By Rachel On January 9, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

Views on life’s meaning, origin, and purpose weigh heavy in such debate—and few would deem this an easy decision for the family (or hospital) to make.

But that’s just the point. It’s a decision for the Munoz family to make, not the government. It’s a difficult, painful decision, which is precisely why it ought to be a private one.

#4 Comment By JohnE_o On January 9, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

Perhaps this is the sort of decision in which the State should not interfere.

#5 Comment By JohnE_o On January 9, 2014 @ 1:16 pm

They may not yet know whether their baby is “damaged.” But even a damaged baby is beautiful. This life could bring promise amidst the pain. This life could comfort them in the midst of their grief and their loss.

Ms. Olmstead, if it should be the case that the family does not feel that way, are you willing to step up and raise the child yourself?

#6 Comment By The Wet One On January 9, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

It is an interesting situation. Back in the good old days, before all this newfangled technology granting us god-like abilities, problems like these didn’t arise. They were resolved quite simply. People died. Or they didn’t. No one had to make any kind of meaningful decision whatsoever.

I kinda miss the good old days for that simplicity.

#7 Comment By Roger II On January 9, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

The question is who gets to make these gut-wrenching decisions. As I understand it, Marlise Munoz had an advanced directive that stated she did not want to be placed on life support, and her husband and parents want to carry out her express wishes. Maybe you or another family would make a different decision, but Texas removes the decision-making process from the family entirely. I cannot think of a government action more intrusive than this one.

Raising a disabled child is time-consuming, difficult, and expensive, and in this case, the child will not have a mother to help. I certainly haven’t read anything about the State of Texas offering to help the Munoz family once the child is born. It isn’t even clear who is responsible for what I assume are the astronomical costs (regardless of insurance) of keeping Ms. Munoz on life support for six months and conducting the delivery of a child from a brain dead woman. One can only hope that Texas isn’t forcing the Munoz family into bankruptcy on top of the emotional pain the family is being forced to bear.

#8 Comment By Frank Stain On January 9, 2014 @ 1:46 pm

This article does not actually make the case that the State of Texas is in the right. It just seeks to substitute the writer’s own moral convictions for those of the family concerned. There may be some value to that discussion, but the only thing that matters here is: is the State of Texas justified in using the coercive power of the state to overrule a family’s wishes about the care of their brain-dead wife/daughter?
Given the highly vociferous opposition evinced recently to the anti-freedom implications of relatively trivial regulations concerning what a health plan is supposed to cover, I highly doubt there can be much intellectually consistent support for a proposal to use the full coercive force of the state against a husband’s private wishes for his brain dead wife.

#9 Comment By Michael Sheridan On January 9, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

Before viability of a fetus, I am personally prochoice, and I strongly believe that the decision made here was the wrong one, that the family’s wishes should instead have been allowed to decide in this case.

However, I also believe Texas (or any other state) has the legal right to make decisions with which I disagree through the legislative process so long as thse decisions do not contravene the Constitution. After all, the 10th Amendment was written to ensure that all power would not be held by and emanate from the federal level.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decided women had a right to privacy (in making personal choices) that outweighed any rights of a fetus until said fetus reached a stage of development in which it was viable. That particular line of argument is somewhat vitiated in this particular case. The mother in this case is, for almost all intents and purposes, dead. Her right to privacy in making decisions is surely diminished by the fact that she cannot make decisions. Her family (husband and parents) surely have some rights in the matter, but although I personally believe they should have the right to make this decision for themselves (as I do not believe a fetus, pre-viability, has yet reached a point at which it should have full legal rights) I cannot say that the laws of the state of Texas, determined by duly elected representatives, are completely out of line in saying otherwise.

Until such time that the point at which legal personhood begins is defined at the federal level (at conception, heartbeat, viability, birth, or other), this is a matter at which the states are and should be given at least some latitude.

#10 Comment By cameyer On January 9, 2014 @ 2:10 pm

I am shocked you even wrote this, then positioned it as right smack in the middle of the politically polarized debate on abortion.

First, if you’re going to highlight NARAL and other knee-jerk pro-choice groups campaign to politically exploit this case, then also examine your own motivations for writing the article.

Second, your rather tentative, indirect, even ‘pious’ judgements on the subject do nothing to give the article credibility. They are blatant appeals to sentimentality (shouldn’t a grandfather want to protect the life of his grandchild).

Third, most Americans line up in the middle of the abortion debate, not at the polar ends. The country may appear ‘polarized’ but in reality many pro-choice and pro-life people are separated by very thin lines.

#11 Comment By Matt On January 9, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

Is it not the government’s responsibility to prevent parents so inclined from killing their own children? I mean, you can claim “big government” but keeping people from killing each other, especially their own children, sounds like a big government I can live with.

#12 Comment By Gromitt Gunn On January 9, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

How convenient of you to neglect to include the fact that Ms. Munoz had a Do Not Resuscitate order included in her Advanced Medical Directive. And to sidestep entirely the issue of who is paying for her “care” over the next several *months* while she serves as a brain-dead incubator for a fetus that may or may not ever be viable.

I find your position morally repugnant.

#13 Comment By Hetzer On January 9, 2014 @ 5:16 pm

Liberals give lip service about protecting the most vulnerable citizens, but when it comes right down to it, they don’t want the government to lift a finger to protect helpless children.

Two can play this stupid bloody game.

#14 Comment By TomB On January 9, 2014 @ 11:18 pm

How come nobody is noticing that the position of the Munoz’s here, and NARAL’s, is the precise functional equivalent of regarding that fetus as nothing more than chattel, belonging to the Munoz’s completely and being disposable at their will?

That is, quite the opposite of NARAL’s metaphorical-at-best contention that Texas just regards women as some child-bearing machines, NARAL and the Munoz’s are far more clearly and concretely regarding that fetus as essentially “belonging” to the family, with the kind of “ownership” interest that we *resoundingly* reject any individual having over any other.

I doubt that even slave-owners here possessed the right to kill their slaves at will, despite slaves being formally classed as mere chattel property.

Seems to me it would be a very different thing if the Munoz’s were saying “due to our circumstances we just do not feel we can handle another child and so we will happily and voluntarily agree to the termination of our parental/familial rights to the child so as to allow Texas to raise the child and adopt it out.”

With all of that being eminently legal and doable. (Every state provides for the termination of parental rights, and no court is going to force a parent to keep a child that they say, ab initio, they simply cannot and/or will not provide for. After all, the States’ usual situation is trying to prove the courts that parents *aren’t* willing or able to do so. And thus when you have a parent openly *saying* they cannot or will not…)

But no, that’s clearly *not* what would satisfy the Munoz’s here: They simply want that fetus dead, and are demanding the right to have it killed, period.

Now of course as per balconsfault’s hypothetical understanding “Perhaps the family feels that there is something inhuman and perverse in keeping the brain-dead body of the mother alive via artificial means simply to serve as an incubation chamber for a fetus.”

But so what? No doubt some families feel there is something inhuman and perverse in keeping a Down’s Syndrome child alive. But they don’t own that child. And not only do we not allow them to kill it we don’t allow them to even neglect it.

And is there any *real* question that the Munoz’s concern is with the body of the mother anyway, over whom we never allow families their total say anyway?

You have no right to have your loved one’s bodies to just be thrown out into the public waterways to decompose, nor to lay out to be picked down to the bones by vultures and animals, nor even to cremate or bury them yourself no matter how safely you do it.

And as to Ms. Munoz’s apparent pre-existing statement eschewing extraordinary life-sustaining measures, even if it is clear that she meant same to apply even if she was pregnant, which is dubious, once again heretofore nobody was claiming that fetus’ were in essence just simply chattel belonging to their mothers that the State could have no interest in any moreso than it could in that mother’s dog. (Who we still do not allow her to neglect or abuse.)

Seems to me thinking about what is being claimed here shows that there’s *very* different principles at stake than with the usual with abortion or with end-of-life situations. And that NARAL’s mask has slipped more than just a bit here: Supposedly concerned before just with mothers’ health, it now turns out they’re interested in them having what amounts to property rights over their fetus’ too.

Moreover the story as presented in the NY Times smells to high heaven to me of tendentious corruption: Note that Ms. Munoz just collapsed in November. And then, despite the clear whacking at state laws such as Texas’, note that there did not seem to be one iota of effort on the part of the reporters to *ask* the State of Texas/local District Attorney/Corporation Counsel what if anything the government was going to do, which in my experience may well already be discussing the options which include the idea of ultimately going into court to terminate Mr. Munoz’s parental rights over the fetus and taking responsibility for it on the grounds of Mr. Munoz’s clear lack of desire to support it.

Hell, for all we know up to now the parents and husband of Ms. Munoz have—as is likely—been trying to handle this matter quietly just with the hospital and the clear object of the story’s ire—the State of Texas—didn’t even know of this situation until now.

Would certainly be right up the NY Times’ alley in terms of objective reporting on such issues, that’s for sure.

#15 Comment By William Dalton On January 9, 2014 @ 11:51 pm

“If your goal is to legally enshrine the notion that pregnant women are incubators first and humans second, keeping their bodies alive to grow babies long after their minds are gone is a perfect way to do it,” wrote Slate author Amanda Marcotte. She said the family has expressed some fear that “the loss of oxygen that was enough to destroy Marlise Munoz’s brain probably did serious damage to her fetus.”

If Mrs. Munoz is now “brain dead”, I would judge that her spirit has left her body and that presently that body is an incubator solely and no longer a human being. I’m not familiar with the medical science, but what I find most remarkable is that the doctors think a child can be successfully brought to term in the womb of a dead woman.

At any rate, if the Munoz family want to wash their hands of this child, I suppose they may legally renounce their parental rights and place the child, if it is delivered alive, up for adoption. They can have their funeral now, and gain some closure, more when her body is delivered to them for burial. The situation is somewhat similar to those who die in frozen climes and whose bodies are kept in storage until the spring thaw allows them to be buried.

But as it is the State taking responsibility to commandeer Mrs. Munoz’s body for the child’s gestation, it is the State which should take responsibility for the costs incurred and for the child which is brought to life.

#16 Comment By Darth Thulhu On January 9, 2014 @ 11:53 pm

Ms. Olmstead,

Who pays?

The woman had an advanced medical directive specifically saying never to do this. So, since she’s being forced into 6 to 7 seven months of emergency-room and urgent care medical treatment that she never wanted, who is going to pay for that?

As for all the upcoming prenatal therapy, nutrition adjustment, ultrasounds, and surgical delivery expenses, who is going to pay for that?

Once the child is born, and needs to be raised, who is going to pay for that?

If the child is born with severe impairments from several hours of anoxia, which may require expensive and lifelong interventionary care, who is going to pay for that?

If you are volunteering to help pay, or are intent on lobbying the State of Texas to pay for the dawning horror that its laws are unsurprisingly creating, you are allowed to lobby the grandparents and single father regarding what they should do.

Otherwise, this is cheap grace and empty sentimentality in the face of pure horror.

#17 Comment By Ted On January 10, 2014 @ 4:06 am

I can only guess that a lot of the conservatives on this site are of the more libertarian stripe.

Wanting to keep the woman’s body alive for the sake of a new life is “morally repugnant”? Just what kind of country have we become??

I consider myself very much a left-liberal, with the exception of the maximalist assertion of abortion rights that prevails amongst the pro-choice liberal crowd.

With the proviso that the State is covering the costs of keeping the woman alive until the baby is at term, and naturally that the family is not obligated to keep custody of the child when it is at term, I can hardly see how the feelings of the family trump the interest of the infant to continued life and development. The worthiness of our society is shown at times like this, when we demonstrate our commitment to the most vulnerable.

#18 Comment By cka2nd On January 10, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

Mr. Sheridan,

I don’t know the details, but the majority decision in Roe v. Wade also noted that the state’s interest in a pregnancy increased from one trimester to the next. 14 weeks falls within the first trimester, or at most on the border of the first and second trimesters, so the government should have probably had no say in this decision under Roe. The family will probably get no relief, but this might be an interesting test case of these types of laws for the courts.

#19 Comment By cka2nd On January 10, 2014 @ 5:09 pm


You should be careful about throwing around the word chattel since one could argue that you are demanding that a pregnant woman serve as chattel for the purpose of carrying to term, and against her will, a fetus or unborn child (the border between the two being a complicated thing for most of us).

You ignore the fact that Roe made distinctions based on the trimester of the pregnancy. As I noted to Mr. Sheridan, 14 weeks either in the first timester or right on the border with the second trimester. I also know of no reputable claims that a 14-week old fetus would be viable outside of the womb (or even 20?). Given this, Mrs. Munoz’s stated directives or her family should retain the right to control her own body.

These are dicey issues for liberals and conservatives, alike. Open the door for too much state intervention and families can be torn apart by the state for reasons to which conservatives (homeschooling) or liberals (the net worth of each divorcing parent) would object.

#20 Comment By TomB On January 10, 2014 @ 8:23 pm

cka2nd wrote:

“You should be careful about throwing around the word chattel since one could argue that you are demanding that a pregnant woman serve as chattel for the purpose of carrying to term, and against her will, a fetus or unborn child…”

Hi cka:

You know, even though I think that the distinction that I’m relying on renders me substantially innocent of that charge, that’s a very keen observation of perspective on your part that I had not considered and that I have to concede might nevertheless might be seen as having some force by some.

But, and again, we and are *not* talking about walking-around, living, breathing healthy women whatsoever: What we are talking about here is a brain-death victim, who, while I don’t regard a treatable “like chattel,” I think it only natural to regard as very differently than we do other women’s bodies.

And indeed that’s the entire crux of my argument: With the brain-death of a person all kinds of considerations change. And with the brain-death of a woman in these circumstances all the other usual principles upon which we judge the other things that we would regard as relevant here change or disappear.

That’s why I think that Roe’s tenets and holding are substantially if not totally inapposite here.

Once again the entire basis of Roe and the entire basis upon which we have recognized abortion rights has been in deference to the right of mothers … *over their own bodies and minds,* as they are of course, *usually,* intimately tied up with pregnancy and then caring for a child.

But it has *never* been even forwarded that we are granting the right of abortion because we believe mothers own their fetuses, or that mothers and mothers alone have the *only* legitimate interest in their fetuses.

Society, *everyone* involved heretofore at least never disputed before, has a legitimate interest in a fetus.

So what happens when you just utterly remove from all consideration a mother’s consideration/concern for her own physical or psychological health, such as when a mother is brain dead? When, I at least think, Roe just simply becomes utterly inapposite?

Yes, I would say, there is still a … “dignity” interest in one’s own body and the bodies of our loved ones that has to be acknowledged, so that *if* a mother has clearly indicated that in the event she becomes brain-dead or etc. that she still be allowed to die even if pregnant and that means her fetus dies, her “dignity” interest ought to be considered at least. Or her family’s interest in what it regards a her dignity. No different than my interest to be cremated rather than buried ought be considered.

But just because we recognize an interest doesn’t mean it trumps all others, such as society’s interest in fetuses and human life in general.

So … absent any interest in a mother’s physical or psychological well-being, the question is whether or when the extant “dignity” interest alone trumps society’s interest in the life of her fetus. And as a “dignity” interest is really just a purely symbolic thing when its primary possessor has passed on, I have a hard time seeing how that purely symbolic interest should trump society’s extremely concrete interest in a concretely living fetus.

Now, even though with the brain-death of a mother I think Roe technically has been rendered inapposite maybe, as you so thoughtfully suggest, Roe’s view of the changing interest dynamic that takes place during pregnancy from one trimester to the next ought play some part in this interest balancing?

Well sure I would say, yes … *if* it was impossible to sustain the mother’s autonomic functions long enough to allow the fetus to survive outside the womb. After all, if that was impossible the State’s only interest would be symbolic too since it couldn’t save the fetus.

But there’s no suggestion of that here. With it being my general understanding that with the kind of brain death Ms. Munoz seems to have her autonomic functionings can be kept going perhaps indefinitely even. Thus allowing her fetus to become viable outside the womb and indeed probably deliverable at full term.

If then Ms. Munoz’s autonomic functioning can be kept going long enough to allow her fetus to develop to the point of viability outside her womb, or even better yet to allow the baby to be brought to term, it seems to me society’s interest in that fetus just tremendously outweighs the other purely symbolic interests here.

I would also further note here what strikes me as the extremely dicey “dignity” claim made by Ms. Munoz’s parents and husband: What, after all, would be the difference if Ms. Munoz went brain dead the day before she was due to deliver? To them it’s an indignity to keep her body alive when she is brain dead. So why shouldn’t we honor a “one-day-before-delivery” wish to unplug her and let her and the fetus die then too? Where’s the “dignity” involved where a parent just simply says they don’t want one of their own children for any reason other than some inability on their part to nurture, support and/or love it? Not a helluva lot of true “dignity” this family seems to me to possess, that’s for sure.

Even given then that fresh perspective that you note, cka, I’ll stick to what I said before: There is a far clearer “fetus as chattel” charge here to be made against the family and NARAL here than there is any charge that I or the State of Texas sees mothers as chattel, or even brain-dead mothers as chattel. Both I and the State of Texas mourn and had no role in causing her brain death and indeed don’t want to see *any* death come about here.

But you can’t say that about the family and NARAL: They also no doubt did not want to see the mother’s death, but by advocating “pulling the plug” on that mother now they are doing nothing less than advocating seeing two deaths here when there may well have been only one.

#21 Comment By libfreak48 On January 10, 2014 @ 10:16 pm

From the “government is too damned interfering” crowd – let’s interfere in families’ private decisions.

BTW, a 14 week old fetus that’s likely suffered extensive brain damage isn’t viable.

#22 Comment By balconesfault On January 10, 2014 @ 11:16 pm

@William Daulton But as it is the State taking responsibility to commandeer Mrs. Munoz’s body for the child’s gestation, it is the State which should take responsibility for the costs incurred and for the child which is brought to life.

Here Mr. Daulton and I come to a rare point of agreement. If the State of Texas wishes to exert authority to prevent the family from allowing the woman’s body to die a natural death, then the State of Texas … and not the family … not the families insurance plan … not the hospital … should be on the hook for all the costs incurred with the life support, delivery, and subsequent (and likely very costly) neonatal care.

This is a problem I often have with the argument of supposed conservatives (many who will scream to high heaven about government intrusion on property rights) – they will decide that a woman must incubate an unwanted fetus to term, and at the same time saddle her with the costs of their decision.

Mr. Daulton’s proposition here echoes (though he may not fully agree with, so I won’t put words in his mouth) my own proposition that the State should have a right to mandate that a woman not abort a fetus at that point where instead of going to a clinic to undergo the abortion the woman can go to a hospital on the state dime and undergo an induced delivery, with the state thereupon also taking full responsibility for the bill for subsequent neonatal care, the newborn to be the ward of the state until it may be adopted.

Many women will cry that this represents a theft of their choice, and while I’m sympathetic to that, I’m also sympathetic to those who do truly believe the fetus to be a “child” who must be protected from the will of the mother. I just think that they should pay the piper for exerting that belief over the will of the mother.

Although as a taxpayer in the state of Texas, I have to admit not being particularly fond of Mr. Daulton’s proposal here, or my proposal were the state to adopt it. But that’s the nature of Democracy … sometimes you end up paying the bill for some things you consider very poorly considered.

#23 Comment By TomB On January 11, 2014 @ 11:11 am

Out of possible fairness to the Munoz family I’d like to note that in my mind at least there’s a good chance they are being used by NARAL. Maybe not, but it’s hardly an unknown thing to have some interest group glom on to some participant(s) in some conflict and then instead of merely faithfully representing them, stoking them up in this or that direction or even misrepresenting them blatantly to serve the interest group’s own polemical/political interest.

Look at what happened with Trayvon Martin’s parents (and maybe that one girlfriend he was talking to on the phone): After the “activists” got a hold of them their tone and if I recall right even their stories changed radically, with them then left to look like liars or fools when confronted with what they had said initially.

Impossible to tell at this remove, but I wouldn’t trust NARAL any more than I’d trust the NY Times whose reporting on this I think already has been shown to be massively biased.