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Hospital Cuts Pregnant Woman From Life Support, Killing Her Unborn Child

by Steven Ertelt | Fort Worth, TX | LifeNews.com | 1/27/14 10:45 AM

State

A Texas hospital decided not to 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.

Following the decision, Marlise Muñoz, 33, was taken off machines at a Fort Worth hospital about 11:30 a.m. Sunday and her body was released to her husband, Erick Muñoz. The husband’s attorney released a statement saying the family “will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Muñoz’s body to rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered.” Erick Munoz’s statement made no mention of his unborn child, who has now died as a result of removing Marlise from life support.

marlisemunoz3Earlier Sunday, a statement from John Peter Smith Hospital indicated it would not appeal, despite pleas from pro-life advocates to save the life of the unborn baby, who was 22 weeks and 5 days old

“From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it,” the statement read. “The hospital will follow the court order.”

Larry Thompson, a state’s attorney who argued on behalf of the hospital Friday, said the hospital, before the judge’s decision, was trying to protect the rights of the fetus as it believed Texas law instructed it to do. The hospital’s attorneys cited a section of the Texas Advance Directives Act that reads: “A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.”

“There is a life involved, and the life is the unborn child,” Thompson told the judge.

On Sunday afternoon, about 40 people gathered near the hospital for a prayer vigil. Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, who coordinated the prayer vigil, told LifeNews he’s saddened by what’s transpired.

“We are grieved that the JPS hospital has removed life support from Marlise Munoz and her baby. As the term “life support” implies, Marlise’s body was alive and supporting a thriving pregnancy at the time support was withdrawn,” he said. “It is despicable that dehumanizing and deceptive language was used to refer to Marlise as a “corpse” and her baby’s condition as “incompatible with life” in order to elicit public support for putting them to death.”

Newman added: “A human being does not lose their God-given human beauty or dignity just because they are disabled or incapacitated. This case just goes to show how far we have slipped into the abyss of a Culture of Death and how intolerant we have become of those who are seen as “inconvenient.” We strongly believe that the order that led to the termination of life support is in complete contradiction to Texas law that was enacted to protect pre-born babies just like the Munoz child. The courts have failed this baby, the attorneys who should have defended Texas law have failed this baby, and the hospital has failed this baby. May this tragedy serve as a wake-up call to our society, lest others wrongly fall victim to this dehumanizing utilitarian view of life and death.”

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 said a doctor has told him his wife is brain dead, had filed a lawsuit against JPS Health Network. The judge ordered the hospital to remove life support by 5 p.m. Monday.

According to AP, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, through a spokesman, said the case was a “heartbreaking tragedy” and that “Texas strives to protect both families and human life, and we will continue to work toward that end.”

Texas Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat running for governor, sided with Erick Munoz’s decision to remove life support and kill is unborn baby, saying, any decision like this “should be made by Mrs. Munoz’s family, in consultation with her doctors.”

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.”

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“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.”

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.