Pregnant Woman's Family Wants To Cut Off Life Support, Law Won't Allow It
A pregnant Texas woman is living on life support after suffering a likely pulmonary embolism that left her brain dead. The state's law dictates that pregnant women must remain on life support in all cases — a law that Marlise Munoz’s family is fighting.
Marlise’s husband Erick, a paramedic, found his wife unconscious on their living room floor in late November. He performed CPR and called 911. The woman never regained consciousness, and has been kept alive by a ventilator.
Marlise's husband and mother say that it is against Marlise's wishes to be kept on life support. Marlise is also a paramedic, and she and Erick had discussed such circumstances before.
"We knew what her wishes were," Erick said.
It is still too early to tell if the fetus was harmed by the lack of oxygen it suffered while its mother was unconscious.
"They don't know how long the baby was without nutrients and oxygen," Erick said. "But I'm aware what challenges I might face ahead."
According to doctors, it is possible that Marlise could give birth to a healthy baby if the fetus was brought to term. Doctors may be able to spot abnormalities that are indicative of developmental issues, but there are no guarantees that the baby will not suffer from such issues later on.
Texas law mandates that pregnant women in such condition remain on life support, regardless of the age of the fetus or the mother's wishes.
"The state has a compelling interest in preserving the life of its unborn citizens," criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos told CNN. "And that interest is superior to even the interest of the remaining family that might be charged with raising an ill child."
Marlise's mother, Lynne Machado, doesn't see the sense of the law in her daughter's case.
"I can't imagine their intent would be for someone so young in pregnancy, at 14 weeks, to have them on life support until mid-May," Machado said.
The family hasn't yet hired a lawyer, but is prepared to make their case before the Texas legislature to argue for a change in a law where "one size does not fit all," according to Machado.