Marlises Munoz collapsed in November. A blood clot took away anything doctors could do. She was declared brain dead according to her family. She left clear wishes that she not be kept on life support should something like this happen. But the Texas hospital where she was taken refuses to comply with her directive because she was 14 weeks pregnant when she collapsed.
Texas has one of the most strict laws in the nation protecting a fetus in a case like this. Doctors cannot follow a woman's directive to pull life support if she is pregnant. Now her widower is suing the hospital hoping to respect her final wishes. And Wednesday her family released information about the fetus being protected. "[T]he fetus is distinctly abnormal," a statement read. "Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined." In addition, it has brain and heart problems possibly due to lack of oxygen after Munoz's collapse.
But the law doesn't make a distinction:
"A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient." End of story. But Erick Munoz is suing the hospital, hoping it's not the end of the story. He says his wife is dead—no brain activity—so she cannot be a patient of the hospital. The machines hooked to her body are merely keeping tissue oxygenated and, he points out, not doing a good job at that. His attorney argues the decaying body of Munoz is contributing to the 20 week old fetus' deformation.
So, Friday a judge in Texas will hear the case. If he or she renders a decision it will make no one happy. But if the decision sides with Munoz's widower and family, it may give them some peace.