A Texas man whose wife is brain dead and living on life support wants authorities to allow her to die. But officials won’t take the woman off life support because she is pregnant and they refuse to kill the baby by taking the mother off the life-sustaining machines.
Mr. Munoz found his wife unresponsive on the floor of their home on November 29. Doctors think she may have had a pulmonary embolism, but will not be able to say for sure without an autopsy.
In happier times, Erick Munoz, his wife Marlise, and their 14-month-old son.
But, Munoz claims that he and his wife had come to the decision to avoid extra ordinary, life-saving procedures if they ever became brain dead. He says that his wife would not want to stay on machines to keep her alive.
Erick claims that his wife is “only a shell” at this point and that he knows she will never come back to him. He wants her body to die.
In the meantime, however, Marlise Munoz is being kept alive by machines at a Fort Worth, Texas hospital and authorities insist she stay that way.
The matter is complicated by the fact that she was 14 weeks pregnant when she went brain dead.
Erick Munoz mourns his wife, but what of his unborn child?
Authorities say that they are acting in the best interests of the child by keeping the woman’s body alive to continue to nurture the infant growing inside.
Erick, though, is afraid that the fetus was likely harmed by the lack of oxygen caused as his wife lay dying before he and ambulance crews found her. He does not want to have an impaired baby if it should live to term.
Unfortunately, doctors cannot tell if Munoz is right that the fetus was harmed during the mother’s distress.
“We don’t know if these babies have been healthy,” Art Caplan, director of the medical ethics at NYU, told the media. “We tend to see that these babies are born, then it’s the end of the headline. … We don’t know the impact of life support on fetal development and the wife being robbed of oxygen. … It could be a huge challenge for the fetus.”
Authorities ay that they cannot just let the mother die with what could be a viable fetus gestating inside.
“We have a responsibility of making sure we follow the laws, whether they are state or federal,” J.R. Labbe, vice president of communications at John Peter Smith Hospital, told WFAA TV news in Fort Worth.
This is certainly one of the toughest situations. But if you are pro-life, you can’t turn your back on this fetus, can you? Tell us what you’d do in our comments section.
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