Texas Law Prohibits Pregnant Woman, Marlise Munoz, From Being Taken Off Life Support By Husband Erick Munoz
The early morning of November 26, 2013 was tragic for the Munoz family in Fort Worth, Texas. Erick Munoz discovered his wife Marlise Munoz unconscious on the living room floor. Marlise was 14 weeks pregnant at the time; Erick, a paramedic, performed CPR and then called 911. Marlise was taken to JPS in Forth Worth, where doctors suspect she suffered a pulmonary embolism.
Marlise Munoz remains on life support and has not regained consciousness. Erick describes her current state as "simply a shell" to News 8 WFAA.
Erick and Marlise Munoz had discussed with one another about whether they wanted to be on life support. In a video interview with ABC News, Erick stated his wife did not wish to be on life support, but a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form was never completed by Marlise.
Erick wants to fulfill his wife's wishes and remove her from life support, but a state law in Texas' Health and Safety Code prohibits the action because Marlise is pregnant.
The code reads, "Section 166.049 Pregnant Patients. A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient."
There is also a a health directive form found under the Health and Safety Code in Texas; it reads, "I understand under Texas law this directive has no effect if I have been diagnosed as pregnant," according to News 8 WFAA. Even if Marlise had completed the Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) prior to her illness, or pregnancy, the statute would supersede it in order to protect the pregnancy.
"I don't agree with this law... I don't," Erick told News 8 WFAA.
In Erick's interview with ABC News he stressed how he is concerned his unborn child may have been injured in the womb from loss of oxygen.
Erick's family could seek an injunction or restraining order in court so Marlise's wishes may be carried out, but the possibility of it being granted are unlikely, according to attorneys. They say a mother's wishes would not override a child's potential, reports News 8 WFAA.
Erick told News 8 WFAA "he doesn't want to get into a long, drawn-out fight over pro-life and pro-choice." Erick merely wants to respect his wife's wishes and remove her from life support. He further commented, "it's hard to reach the point where you wish your wife's body would stop."
Doctors have discussed taking the fetus to full-term, and more tests will be administered in February when the fetus is at 24 weeks. At this time Erick remains at the mercy of Texas law, and Marlise on life support.