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Thread: Texas Father Barred From Removing Wife From Life Support

  1. In vino veritas
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    Texas Father Barred From Removing Wife From Life Support

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    On Nov. 26, Erick Munoz woke to the sound of his year-old son crying and found his 14-weeks-pregnant wife, Marlise, lying on the kitchen floor, blue in the face and without a pulse. A firefighter and paramedic, Munoz called 911 and performed CPR, to no avail. When they arrived at the John Peter Smith Hospital (JPS) in Fort Worth, Texas, he thought he would have to make an agonizing decision: refuse life support even though that meant losing both his wife and his future child. Munoz said in a WFAA News report that four years ago, when Marlise's brother was killed in an accident, she told him that she would never want to be on life support something they had discussed many times since.

    A month later, against his requests, she is still on a ventilator. Not only does Munoz want to honor his wife's wishes, but also he believes that the fetus she is carrying has been seriously harmed. "I don't know how long she was there prior to me finding her," he said. Munoz, who could not be reached for comment, wrote on WFAA's Facebook page, "All I know is that she was without oxygen long enough for her to have massive brain swelling. I unfortunately know what that type of damage could do to a child during crucial developmental time." Doctors say it's likely that Munoz's wife suffered a pulmonary embolism, and no longer has brain activity.

    When Munoz first arrived at the hospital, he discovered that, according to Texas law, life-sustaining procedures may not be withheld or withdrawn from a pregnant woman, even if she has an advance health care directive (also called a living will) stipulating that she does not want to be kept alive on a machine. There are conflicting reports about whether Marlise Munoz had an official DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order), and the family could not be reached for comment. But according to the Center for Women Policy Studies, as of 2012, Texas and 11 other states have automatically invalidated pregnant women's advance directives to refrain from using extraordinary measures to keep them alive, and others have slightly less restrictive but similar laws. A spokesperson from the hospital told Yahoo Shine, "Our responsibility is to be a good corporate citizen while also providing quality care for our patients. At all times, JPS will follow the law as it applies to healthcare in the state of Texas."

    Marlise Munoz's mother and father say they support their son-in-law's request to take their daughter off life support. "She absolutely DID NOT EVER want to be connected to Life Support," her mother, Lynne Machado, wrote on WFAA's Facebook page. "This issue is not about Pro Choice/Pro Life. Our intent is purely one of education about how this [statute] null and voids any woman's DNR [if she is] pregnant. We know our daughter well enough, after numerous discussions about DNR, that she would NEVER EVER consent to being hooked up to Life Support." While the family's tragic situation hits a nerve in a state where abortion debates rage, Munoz also said he doesn't want to participate in arguments over right-to-life verses pro-choice issues, but instead wishes to honor his wife and inform the public about a little-known law.

    Marlise Munoz, at approximately 18 weeks pregnant, remains unresponsive and her husband describes her as "simply a shell." Doctors check the fetal heartbeat daily, but Munoz doesn't think the testing is sufficient to measure the fetus's viability. "Its hard to reach the point where you would wish your wife's body would stop," he said.
    Texas Father Barred from Taking Pregnant Wife Off Life Support

    This is one (of many) reason(s) I hate laws like this in Texas and other states. It puts a possibly severely damaged fetus's heartbeat over the emotional and financial well-being of a family and the life of the mother. This is insane that this is not only legal, but the 'better' legality in the eyes of Texas lawmakers.
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    I can understand both sides completely. Also, she probably didn't think about being pregnant when she said she would never want to be on life support. And I also feel referring to the baby as a "fetus" dehumanizes him/her. It's sounds like "damaged goods", IMO. Why can't they do more tests to see if the baby is/can survive? Personally, I think they should do more tests to see if the baby can make it. If so, let the family make an educated decision. Keeping her on life support if the baby cannot make it would be totally, heartbreakingly devastating to the family to have had to keep her on life support and not get to take the baby home either. But if I were in that situation and there was a chance the baby would make is, I would hope my husband would keep me alive long enough to get our baby out safely.
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    #3
    I think at that stage of development, "fetus" would actually be the correct scientific term. I could be wrong though it's been a long time since I took any anatomy/development classes! Also I thought 18 weeks was well outside the range of viability (was taught it was 24 weeks) but maybe I'm wrong there. Not sure.

    Regardless I think it's ridiculous to discard someone's DNR like that (assuming she had one).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katarina View Post
    I can understand both sides completely. Also, she probably didn't think about being pregnant when she said she would never want to be on life support. And I also feel referring to the baby as a "fetus" dehumanizes him/her. It's sounds like "damaged goods", IMO. Why can't they do more tests to see if the baby is/can survive? Personally, I think they should do more tests to see if the baby can make it. If so, let the family make an educated decision. Keeping her on life support if the baby cannot make it would be totally, heartbreakingly devastating to the family to have had to keep her on life support and not get to take the baby home either. But if I were in that situation and there was a chance the baby would make is, I would hope my husband would keep me alive long enough to get our baby out safely.
    Fetus doesnt dehumanize, its a scientific term. Also, there are many tests you can do, but TBH, so many tests are inconclusive beyond viability in regards to mental/physical state of the fetus and long term effects. You cant test for brain damage or oxygen damage. You cant test for long term complications. There is a reason the family doesnt want to keep her on life support- they have discussed the possibility of the baby surviving and coming out horribly mentally and/or physically impaired, and after the death of the mom, they (clearly, as evidenced by their want to go forth with the DNR) dont feel they could handle that after having the mother die. Plus, who knows how expensive this is- what if they cant afford it? I think you are placing your own values on this families choice. It may not be the choice you would make, but lucky for you, you dont have to. They do, they have made the choice, and the law isnt letting them. IMO, bullshit.
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    Obviously everyone has their own opinions. I never said they were wrong for what they want. I just simply said what I would hope for in the situation. That doesnt make me wrong either. It's just an opinion. And it says he doesnt think the testing they have done is sufficient. IMO, I would want to feel like they have sufficiently tested anything they could before making that choice. I'm not pushing my values on anyone. Just saying how I feel about it. And as for the money thing, (IMO once again) you cant put a price on some things to me. But as I said, that does not make them wrong for what they want, or me for what I would hope for in that situation.
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    #6
    ugh what the fuck. That poor man.
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    #7
    So does the law state she's supposed to stay on life support til the baby is born if possible? or...?
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    #8
    How incredibly sad. I hope my husband would choose what's being forced on this man, but I'm not her. They should let her go.
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    #9
    It's HIS choice to make, he is the husband of the woman and the father of the baby. He is the next of kin, the one responsible, and the one legally who SHOULD be making that choice. Not some politician somewhere who wants to push his or her "right to life" agenda on some grieving family who has now had their choices taken from them. I think it's bullshit, too.
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sinderbelly View Post
    It's HIS choice to make, he is the husband of the woman and the father of the baby. He is the next of kin, the one responsible, and the one legally who SHOULD be making that choice. Not some politician somewhere who wants to push his or her "right to life" agenda on some grieving family who has now had their choices taken from them. I think it's bullshit, too.
    I agree with this! I was definitely not saying it shouldnt be his choice. I was just saying, if DH and I were in this situation, I would hope he would do things a little differently. But I definitely agree 100% it should be his choice!
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