A Texas hospital may not appeal a judge’s decision late Friday to allow a husband’s bid to remove his “brain dead” pregnant wife from life support, an action that would end the life of his own unborn child.
Marlise Munoz collapsed in her home last November from an apparent blood clot in her lungs when she was 14 weeks pregnant with her second child. Her husband and other family members have asked the John Peter Smith Hospital in Ft. Worth to remove Marlise from life support after they were told she was “brain dead.” Ending life support would also end her unborn baby’s life.
Erick Munoz, who says a doctor has told him his wife is brain dead, has filed a lawsuit against JPS Health Network. But, the judge in the case sided with the state law and hospital.
The judge ordered the hospital to remove life support by 5 p.m. Monday.
Hospital officials met yesterday to consider an appeal but reached no decision:
Officials from John Peter Smith Hospital and the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, which is representing the county-owned hospital, met to discuss Judge R. H. Wallace Jr.’s order regarding Marlise Munoz, hospital spokeswoman J.R. Labbe said. She declined to say whether a possible appeal was being discussed, but said an announcement wouldn’t come Saturday.
Both the hospital and family agree that Marlise Munoz meets the criteria to be considered brain-dead — which means she is dead both medically and under Texas law — and that her fetus could not be born alive this early in pregnancy. But the hospital says it’s obligated to protect the fetus, while Munoz’s husband, Erick Munoz, says his wife wouldn’t have wanted to be kept in this condition. His attorneys have said medical records show the fetus is “distinctly abnormal.”
Wallace sided with Erick Munoz on Friday and gave the Fort Worth hospital until 5 p.m. Monday to take Marlise Munoz off life support. She was 14 weeks pregnant with their second child when her husband found her unconscious Nov. 26, possibly due to a blood clot.
Hospital officials have said they were bound by the Texas Advance Directives Act, which prohibits withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient. But in his brief ruling, Wallace said that “Mrs. Munoz is dead,” meaning that the hospital was misapplying the law. The ruling did not mention the fetus.
The hospital has not pronounced her dead and has continued to treat her over the objections of both Erick Munoz and her parents, who sat together in court Friday.
Larry Thompson, a state’s attorney representing the public hospital, told the judge Friday that the hospital recognized the Munoz family’s pain and rights, but said it had a greater legal responsibility to protect the fetus.
“There is a life involved, and the life is the unborn child,” Thompson said.
The hospital said in a statement that it “appreciates the potential impact of the consequences of the order on all parties involved” and was deciding whether to appeal.
The designation of “brain death” is a controversial one and presents moral and ethical issues, especially when the life of a baby is involved. There are many cases where babies have survived after the mothers have experienced similar situations to that of Marlise Munoz. There is a very strong possibility that Marlise’s baby could survive, given a little more time.
“We feel great compassion for the family of Marlise Munoz and her pre-born baby. No one ever wants to be in their difficult and tragic situation,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “Marlise wanted this baby, and as long as there is a chance that he or she can be saved, we support John Peter Smith Hospital in their bid to follow the law and protect this baby’s life.”
“The public has been given the erroneous impression that Marlise is a dead and decaying corpse. This assumption is completely false. Marlise’s heart continues to beat and she continues to nourish her pre-born baby. A rotting corpse cannot do that,” said Newman. “As for the baby, we have information that diagnostic tests have not been done on the baby to support allegations that there are developmental anomalies, but even if the baby does have health issues, that baby still does not deserve to be killed.”
Newman added after the ruling:
We are appalled by Judge Wallace’s order to terminate life support for Marlise Munoz and her baby. The order is the equivalent of signing a death sentence for Baby Munoz. We utterly reject the false notion that Marlise’s body is a rotting corpse, which is impossible since a decaying body cannot support the life of a baby for weeks, as Marlise has.
Killing people because they are disabled is wrong, and dangerously devalues all life. We condemn in the strongest terms this order to fatally discriminate against this disabled mother and her baby, especially in light of the fact that there are people standing by to adopt the baby knowing that the child will have special needs.
Even if the Munoz baby has suffered disabilities due to Marlise’s condition, numerous people have expressed an interest in adopting the Munoz baby regardless of whether he or she has special needs.
Abortion groups like NARAL have coldly sided with Marlise’s husband in calling on the hospital to kill Marlise and her baby.
“Some people want to decide who lives and who dies based on their personal criteria. If that was allowed, none of our lives would be safe. We simply cannot murder sick or inconvenient people just because we don’t want the hassle of caring for them. That is a dangerous road that will only end up unjustly depriving vast numbers of people of their right to life, just as we have seen with the issue of abortion,” said Newman.
Writing at LifeNews, Calvin Frieberger says abortion activists are upset.
As Newsbusters’ Katie Yoder documents, pro-aborts far and wide are seething with rage over this. But curiously, that’s despite the fact that almost none of their token justifications are present. Delivery will no longer affect Marlise’s well-being, and as Cox points out, whatever end-of-life wishes she had told Erick almost certainly didn’t account for the remote possibility that ending her life would also end her son or daughter’s, in what is presumably a desired pregnancy.
That means a man is presuming to make a woman’s reproductive decision for her—with the full backing of the supposed “reproductive rights” champions. Apparently the outcome of a dead baby is all that matters.