Texas man goes to court to have his pregnant wife removed from life support and kill his unborn child

Written by Carole Novielli (photo credits:/all photos unmarked=same)

BREAKING JAN 14, 2014

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 pre-born baby’s life.

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So far John Peter Smith Hospital officials have refused to follow the family’s request, citing a Texas law that prohibits hospitals from removing life support from pregnant women.

That Texas statute states: “Sec. 166.049. PREGNANT PATIENTS. �A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.”

Tuesday morning, Erick Munoz took another step toward fulfilling JPS’ wish for clarity, filing suit in Tarrant County District Court. In the suit, he says the hospital has diagnosed her has “brain dead” and that all life-sustaining treatments should be stopped.

Keeping her alive “makes no sense, and amounts to nothing more than the cruel and obscene mutilation of a deceased body against the expressed will of the deceased and her family.”

A copy of the suit is available here

The documents state that, “Although the hospital has not publically released an official diagnosis of Marlise’s condition, Erick has been informed by JPS, and from that information believes, that Marlise is brain dead. At the time of the filing of this document, Erick still awaits the release of Marlise’s medical records, for which the necessary releases have been duly executed and provided..JPS has informed Erick and his family that Marlise Munoz is brain dead, and as such, Erick asserts that she is legally dead under Texas law. Despite the fact that Marlise is dead, JPS refuses to remove Marlise from the “life sustaining” treatment, thus mutilating, disturbing and damaging Marlise’s deceased body, and further refusing to release it to Erick for proper preservation and burial…Erick vehemently opposes any further alleged “life sustaining” measures, surgery or treatment to be performed by JPS on the deceased body of his wife, Marlise. Erick has repeatedly expressed his wishes, and the wishes of Marlise, to JPS, to no avail. Defendants (including JPS) have instead consistently refused Erick’s requests to remove the “life sustaining” treatments from Marlise’s deceased body , and continue to perform medical procedures on Marlise against Erick’s wishes…”

The court papers further state, “Consequently, as Marlise is deceased, she cannot possibly be a “pregnant patient” under Section 166.049 of the TEXAS HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE, nor can Marlise be subject to any “life-sustaining” treatment pursuant to Chapter 166 of the Code…As a result, JPS should be ordered to immediately remove Marlise from these devices… Notwithstanding the fact that Marlise is deceased, even if JPS were to argue that Section 166.049 were to apply to Marlise’s unborn fetus, it is clear by the plain language of Section 166.049 that this Section only applies to a “pregnant patient”, and does not extend the prohibition of withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining support to a fetus…Marlise was competent when she made her medical directives to both her husband, Erick, and her parents. ..To take those rights away from Marlise, and force her to be subject to various medical procedures simply because she is pregnant, is a gross violation of her constitutional rights.”

Pro-life leaders are speaking out on this issue.

“The lawsuit launched by Erick #Munoz is nothing less than an attempt to kill his wife and #unborn child. It’s a sad mockery of the meaning of fatherhood and of love, life and law,” said Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life in a statement to Fox News.

PRO-LIFERS are begging the family and the courts to uphold the law so the unborn child can survive until viability:

IMG_0658 (Sue Cry and her family gathered to pray for Baby Munoz Photo credit: Carole Novielli)

This past Sunday afternoon (January 12, 2014) a group or pro-life leaders held a prayer vigil outside the Texas hospital where a 33-year-old pregnant woman is being kept on life-support to give her 20-week-old pre-born baby an chance at life.

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As was expected the side of death protested for the removal of life support at the same time.

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“It’s about a life,” Timm Hobbs of Denton told the Ft Worth Telegraph. “We are here to support that baby.”

Hobbs was there with his wife Renee and two young sons.
Timm Hobbs Ft Worth Telegraph1rclQM.St.58(Timm Hobbs with his family photo credit Ft Worth Telegraph)

Pro-lifers were led in the reading of scriptures on life by Sue Cyr. “We know that baby was created for many wonderful things,” Cyr begins, “Revelation 5 You are a Holy Awesome God….Lord, you have told us we are our brother’s keeper and that whatever we do for the least of Thee we do for you,” she continued.

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The atmosphere was prayerful as media made their way to the pro-lifers.

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NARAL Pro-choice America has set up a petition they say is “for the Munoz family.” The family wants the 20 week pregnant mother disconnected from life support which would kill the baby. Pro-lifers oppose this move as it would kill the unborn child.

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Local Pro-lifer Carole Novielli responded, “What I find outrageous is that there is no written directive which spells out Marlise’s wishes. This woman has carried her child for 20 weeks, she obviously wanted this baby. Yet NARAL, who always claims to ‘protect women’ has decided to side with the woman’s husband in this case and to call for life support to be pulled. NARAL always sides with death and in this case it is the death of a woman and her child. When will the media call NARAL out on this hypocrisy? Regardless, Texas law clearly states that a pregnant woman must be kept alive in cases such as these.”

Novielli is interviewed in the news videos from WFAA below:

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IMG_0660( Rev. Stephen Broden Photo credit: Carole Novielli)

Pastor Stephen E. Broden of Fair Park Bible Fellowship and Founder of National Black Pro-Life Coalition led the vigil in support of Marlise and her baby.

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There is a baby, the baby is alive and has a heartbeat and it is growing,” Rev. Broden tells the crowd. “So we want to pray that God will move and soften the hearts of the Munoz family,” he said.
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Being brain dead is not the affirmative biological definition of death,” Broden exclaims. “It is a created definition. It was created in 1960 by a group of doctors at Harvard,” Broden explains.

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The mother is nurturing that baby now, the baby is growing. Father we ask you that the child’s father would recognize that value and the dignity of that life and he would allow the baby to live. So we are praying now that there would be a softening of his heart and the grandparents that are involved and recognize that this is life. That they Father, would release their demand to have the ventilation removed, to pull the plug. But rather insist that they allow the baby to live.”

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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.

Here are some examples:

In 1982 a brain dead woman was put on life support for several days until her unborn child could be delivered.

Michele Odette Poole was delivered in 1985 after her mother was declared brain dead. Her father won a legal battle against the woman’s parents who had requested that life support be disconnected

In March of 1986, doctors successfully delivered a baby at the University of California’s Moffitt Hospital, whose mother was declared legally dead in January and was kept on life support to protect the child.

In November of 1991, Tracy Bucher gave birth to a baby boy after she was pronounced as brain dead. She was kept on life support for six weeks while her unborn child developed inside her.

In November of 1997, Lisa Nottingham was four months when she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was declared brain dead in August. She was kept alive by a machine until her baby could safely be delivered the following November.

Susan Anne Catherine Tores was born in September of 2005 after her mother was kept on life support for three months after being pronounced legally dead. Despite heroic efforts the child succumbed to a respiratory illness and died a few days later.

In June of 2006, a brain dead woman kept alive for more than two months gave birth to a baby girl. She was named Christine and her last name was withheld by the media.

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The Munoz family told Fox 4 in Dallas that when Marlise went down it was uncertain how long the baby was without oxygen. Erick Munoz said that is a concern for him.

Fox 4 News of the protests:

Is it possible that the real concern here for Marlise’s husband is the health of his unborn child rather than Marlise’s wishes which were never put in writing?” asked Novielli.

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We must save this baby. It is a person, guaranteed protection under the Constitution,” Broden told the Ft Worth Telegraph.

There is an alternative for the family. There are families willing to take the baby and provide a safe place for it to grow in a loving environment. If we err, we should err on the side of life,” he said.

“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 who suggested the vigil to local activists. “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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