The outrageous case of the brain dead pregnant woman in Texas who continues to be kept on life support despite the protests of her husband and family has taken another tragic turn. Lawyers representing Erick Munoz, who is fighting to have his brain dead wife, Marlise, taken off life support even though she is now 22 weeks pregnant, say that the fetus is -- reportedly according to the hospital's own records -- "distinctly abnormal" and has so many lower extremity deformities that no one can even tell what sex the fetus is.
Pregnant Marlise Munoz, who already had a young child, suffered a pulmonary embolism when she was about 14 weeks pregnant. She lay on the floor for at least an hour with no oxygen until she was discovered by her husband and rushed to the hospital. But it was too late. Marlise was tragically declared brain dead.
Since Erick and Marlise were EMTs who had formerly discussed end-of-life care, Erick knew that Marlise's wishes were not to be kept alive by artificial means in case of such a severe happenstance. It's unclear if they discussed this again after Marlise became pregnant. Since she was only pregnant for 14 weeks and probably not thinking of dying, maybe not. Either way, Erick says he knows what her wishes would have been and wanted Marlise to go peacefully.
However, the Forth Worth, Texas hospital where Marlise has been has refused because of a Texas law that says if a fetus is involved, a woman's life can't be terminated. Reportedly, several experts have said that the hospital is misinterpreting the law -- but the hospital has stuck to its guns. In a way, you can't blame them. They probably don't want the government coming after them.
Many have sympathized with Erick -- but many have also condemned him, asking how a husband couldn't want his unborn child to be given a chance. But now it seems fairly clear -- at least given this report -- that the viability of the fetus is in major doubt.
Attorneys for Erick said that the fetus, on top of the deformities, also has fluid inside of the skull as well as a heart problem.
The attorneys said:
Quite sadly, this information is not surprising due to the fact that the fetus, after being deprived of oxygen for an indeterminate length of time, is gestating within a dead and deteriorating body, as a horrified family looks on in absolute anguish, distress, and sadness.
While there is still some chance that this fetus might develop into a baby that is viable outside the womb, it sounds increasingly unlikely that the baby would have any kind of a normal life. It's heartbreaking and unfair that the family has to go through this, all because the state has decided it knows what is better for Marlise and Erick than they do.
Hopefully this issue will be cleared up in the courts so that no other family in Texas has to go through this.
What would you do if this was your relative?
Image via WFAA