In a potentially historic court battle, the husband of a pregnant and brain-dead woman is suing a Texas hospital for keeping her on life support against his wishes. Erick Munoz wants to take his wife, Marlise, off the tubes keeping her alive, which would effectively end the life of the fetus as well. He has told reporters that his wife had made it clear that she should be taken off life support if she ever fell into a condition similar to this. Marlise has been on life support since being found unconscious at their home on Nov. 26; she was 14 weeks pregnant at the time. They already have a son together named Mateo.
However, John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth is refusing to remove the tubes keeping her alive because they claim they are legally and ethically obligated to continue treating a pregnant patient. Erick is arguing against this because he believes that his wife is legally and medically dead, although the condition of the fetus is still unknown. However, if brought to term, it’s highly likely that the baby would suffer from severe medical complications.
The lawsuit states that “Marlise Munoz is dead … There is no reason JPS should be allowed to continue treatment on Marlise Munoz’s dead body, and this court should order JPS to immediately discontinue such.” Dr. Robert Fine, clinical director of the office of clinical ethics and palliative care for Baylor Health Care System, said that “this patient is neither terminally nor irreversibly ill. Under Texas law, this patient is legally dead.”
No hearings have been set for the case yet, but Erick’s attorney have asked for an expedited hearing and ruling so the case can be resolved within the next few weeks.