Texas Judge Orders Brain Dead Pregnant Patient Removed Off Life Support

Texas Judge Orders Brain Dead Pregnant Patient Off Life Support

A Texas judge has ordered the hospital that Marlise Munoz, who is brain dead and pregnant, is in to be removed from life support after the hospital stated that the fetus inside her is not viable. A Tarrant County District Judge has given the Fort Worth hospital until 5 p.m. Texas time on Monday to take Mrs. Munoz, age 33, from the ventilator she is attached to. This is what her husband, Erick Munoz has wanted since November.

The hospital had continued to argue even as recently as Thursday that even though Munoz has been declared as brain dead since Nov. 28, if they took her off life support, it would cause the unborn child to die. However in a dual affidavit which specified the facts of the case filed just before Friday’s hearing, it stated that at the time of the hearing, the fetus inside Mrs. Munoz was not viable. The hospital had constantly pointed to a Texas state law which stated that life-sustaining support could not be removed or withheld from a pregnant female, in order presumably to defend the unborn child against the wishes of a decision maker who would end the life of the child along with the mother’s life.

Marlise Munoz was about 14 weeks along in her pregnancy when she collapsed back in November of 2013 from what physicians think was a pulmonary embolism. The fetus has now reached around 22 weeks’ gestation. Erick Munoz stated in a revised motion which was filed on Thursday that his wife was legally and medically dead, and to further perform any type of surgical procedures on a dead body was nothing short of outrage. He added that his wife would not have changed her mind, that her last wishes would have remained the same and would not have changed just because she was pregnant.

The fetus itself was deprived of oxygen for an unknown amount of time and is gestating within a deceased and deteriorating body, stated Mr. Munoz’s attorneys Heather King and Jessica Janicek. Officials at the Texas hospital where Mrs. Munoz has been since November has not publicly stated that she is officially dead, though they also have not disputed the assertions of her husband either.

Erick Munoz, who like his wife, is a paramedic by training, stated that physicians told him his wife had lost all the activity inside her brain stem, and an additional hospital chart read that she was considered brain dead, stated his lawsuit. A hospital spokesperson stated that doctors were only attempting to obey a Texas law that declares a hospital cannot withdraw or withhold any life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant patient.

Mrs. Munoz’s husband retorted by saying that Marlise was not a pregnant patient because her body was dead. Additionally, he argued that her wishes were that she never be put on any type of life-sustaining measures if she was ever considered brain dead. He added that what she wanted should not be disregarded differently from a male or a female who was not pregnant simply because of her pregnancy. It is as if the life support was really death support, and Mr. Munoz repeated that his wife would never have wanted to be any type of life support.

This tragedy may soon be coming to an end now that a Texas judge has stepped in and ordered the hospital that Marlise Munoz to be removed from life support.

By Kimberly Ruble



NBC News

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