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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

1/24/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Texas law forbids withholding, withdrawing life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant patient

Overwhelmingly complex questions about what defines a living entity are set to be decided in a Texas courtroom. Thirty-three-year-old Marlise Munoz, pregnant with her husband's child, fell into a vegetative state last November. Her family says that she is clinically brain dead, and therefore dead. Texas law, however, forbids the withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant patient.

In a lawsuit trying to force the hospital to take her off life support, Erick Munoz contends doctors told him his wife 'had lost all activity in her brain stem' and an accompanying chart stated that she was 'brain dead.'

In a lawsuit trying to force the hospital to take her off life support, Erick Munoz contends doctors told him his wife "had lost all activity in her brain stem" and an accompanying chart stated that she was "brain dead."

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/24/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: brain death, pregnant mother, court decision, life sustaining


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Erick, Munoz' husband, says she is not a patient because she is not alive. He other family members say the hospital should abide by her wishes, which were relayed verbally to them and not have machines keep her organs and blood running.
  
Lawyers for Munoz's family are squaring off in court with those representing Fort Worth's John Peter Smith Hospital. At heart of the controversy is whether she and the fetus inside her worth sustaining using devices like a respirator and ventilator, as the hospital has done.

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Both Marlise and Erick Munoz were two trained paramedics awaiting the arrival of their second child. On November 26, she was rushed to the north-central Texas hospital, where her husband and her family were informed that she "was for all purposes brain dead." The family also says the fetus may have been deprived of oxygen.
 
In a lawsuit trying to force the hospital to take her off life support, Erick Munoz contends doctors told him his wife "had lost all activity in her brain stem" and an accompanying chart stated that she was "brain dead."

Erick Munoz also says that little is left that was at one time recognizable about Marlise. Her bones crack when her stiff limbs move, exuding a "smell of death." And her once lively eyes have become "soulless.

"Over these past two months, nothing about my wife indicates she is alive," Erick Munoz said. "... What sits in front of me is a deteriorating body."

Munoz says the justification for keeping his wife alive amount "to nothing more than the cruel and obscene mutilation of a deceased body against the expressed will of the deceased and her family."

The family's attorneys more recently said that Marlise's fetus "is distinctly abnormal," suffering from hydrocephalus and "deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined.

"Quite sadly, this information is not surprising due to the fact that the fetus, after being deprived of oxygen for an indeterminate length of time, is gestating within a dead and deteriorating body, as a horrified family looks on in absolute anguish, distress and sadness," attorneys Jessica Janicek and Heather King said in a statement.

It is hoped that "the courts are the appropriate venue to provide clarity, direction and resolution in this matter."

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