The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

National News

January 24, 2014

Judge: Remove life support for pregnant woman

FORT WORTH, Texas — A judge on Friday ordered a Texas hospital to remove life support for a pregnant, brain-dead woman whose family had argued that she would not want to be kept in that condition.

Judge R. H. Wallace Jr. issued the ruling in the case of Marlise Munoz. John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth has been keeping Munoz on life support against her family’s wishes. The judge gave the hospital until 5 p.m. CST Monday to remove life support.

Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when her husband found her unconscious Nov. 26, possibly due to a blood clot. Both the hospital and the family agree that the fetus could not be born alive at this point. However, John Peter Smith Hospital had argued that it had to protect the life of the unborn child.

Erick Munoz says he and his wife are paramedics who were clear that they didn’t want life support in this type of situation. Her parents agreed. His attorney argued to the judge Friday that keeping the woman on life support would set a dangerous precedent for future cases of pregnant, brain-dead women.

Attorneys for the family declined to say what the next steps were, pending a potential appeal from the hospital.

The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, which is representing the hospital in the lawsuit, said the hospital was expected to issue a statement later Friday in response to the ruling.

Hospital officials have said they were bound by a state law prohibiting withdrawal of treatment from a pregnant patient. Several experts interviewed by The Associated Press have said the hospital is misapplying the law because Marlise Munoz would be considered legally and medically dead.

“Marlise Munoz is dead, and she gave clear instructions to her husband and family — Marlise was not to remain on any type of artificial ‘life sustaining treatment’, ventilators or the like,” the lawsuit said. “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.”

The case has raised questions about end-of-life care and whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus. It also has gripped attention on both sides of the abortion debate, with anti-abortion groups arguing Munoz’s fetus deserves a chance to be born.

Earlier this week, Erick Munoz’s attorneys said that the fetus, now believed to be at about 22 weeks’ gestation, is “distinctly abnormal.” They attorneys said they based that statement on medical records they received from the hospital.

Not much is known about fetal survival when mothers suffer brain death during pregnancy. German doctors who searched for such cases found 30 of them in nearly 30 years, according to an article published in the journal BMC Medicine in 2010.

Those mothers were further along in pregnancy — 22 weeks on average — when brain death occurred than in the Texas case. Birth results were available for 19 cases. In 12, a viable child was born. Follow-up results were available for six, all of whom developed normally.

In refusing to take Marlise Munoz off life support, the hospital has cited a provision 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.”

Experts interviewed by The Associated Press, including two who helped draft the legislation, said a brain-dead patient’s case wouldn’t be covered by the law.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • APTOPIX Houston Suburb.jpg 4 children among 6 killed in Houston-area shooting

    A gunman charged Thursday in the killing of four children and their parents was dressed as a delivery man when he arrived at the suburban Houston home where the family was shot the death, officials said.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • Utah Marriage Equality 1.jpg Utah to appeal gay marriage ruling to high court

    Utah is going directly to the nation’s highest court to challenge a federal appeals court ruling that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, the state attorney general’s office announced Wednesday.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • Germany US Spying.jpg Germans probe 2nd spy case reportedly involving US

    German authorities are investigating a second spy case reportedly involving the U.S., a week after the arrest of a German intelligence employee cast a new shadow over relations between the two countries.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Government made $100B in improper payments

    By its own estimate, the government made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them — tax credits to families that didn’t qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary.

    July 9, 2014

  • Elderly woman accused of killing 89-year-old husband

    An 83-year-old woman, described as "a loose cannon" by her landlord, has been arrested in this Buffalo suburb for beating her 89-year-old husband to death.

    July 8, 2014

  • Soda Tax Fight_Cast.jpg Soda tax’s last stand? Bay Area preps for showdown

    If two of the most progressive U.S. cities don’t pass a tax on sugary drinks, will the idea finally fizzle out?

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Border money request won’t include policy change

    President Barack Obama is preparing to ask Congress for emergency spending of more than $2 billion to deal with the crisis of unaccompanied kids at the Southern border, but for now he won’t seek legal changes to send the children back home more quickly.

    July 8, 2014

  • Court halts denial of licenses for immigrants

    An appeals court sided with advocates for young immigrants who argued that Arizona’s policy of denying them driver’s licenses even though they had work permits under an Obama administration policy violated their equal protection rights.

    July 7, 2014

  • APTOPIX Great White Shark.jpg California shark bite victim feared for his life

    Steven Robles was an hour into his regular weekend swim off some of Southern California’s most popular beaches when he came face-to-face with a great white shark.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Airport Security.jpg Some US-bound air travelers must turn on phones

    Passengers at some overseas airports that offer U.S.-bound flights will soon be required to power on their electronic devices in order to board their flights.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Poll

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed legislation that sought to increase the tax credits available for donations to organizations providing food to the poor and aid to pregnant women, saying it would have eroded government funds needed for education and other services. Do you agree with the veto?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
Neighbors Mourn Killing of Texas Family Art of Haitian Machete Fighting Revived Israeli-Palestinian Tensions, Attacks Escalate UN Secretary-General Urges Mideast Ceasefire 'Game of Thrones' Leads Emmy Nominees Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta At Texas Border, a Daily Tide of Poor Migrants Raw: Rescuers Push Beached Whale Back to Ocean Mass. Mayor: Families Lost Everything in Fire Four Kids, Two Adults Shot Dead Near Houston Connecticut Boy Dies Inside Parked Car Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats Robots Gearing Up for Their Own 'World Cup' Kim Kardashian Hits Up Valentino Show in Paris Israeli Offensive Escalates in Gaza Attack Dodgers Found Partly Responsible in Fan Beating Children of Deported Parents Speak Out Police: Prostitute Accused in Overdose Death