Brain-Dead Tarrant County Woman's Fetus is "Distinctly Abnormal," Lawyers Say

marlise-munoz094936.jpg
Marlise Munoz is, as she has been for the past two months, in a Fort Worth hospital bed, being kept alive by machines. A Tarrant County judge could decide tomorrow whether she is legally dead, thus allowing her family to pull the plug as they all agree she would have wanted, or if she still retains a sufficient flicker of brain activity that "life-sustaining treatment" will have to continue until her child is no longer in her womb.

And what of the child? When Munoz was first taken to JPS Hospital just before Thanksgiving, she was 14 weeks pregnant -- far enough along for doctors to detect a heartbeat but too soon to determine much else.

Now, at 22 weeks, they're able to get a better picture. According to a statement released Wednesday by attorneys for the Munoz family, it's not pretty.

See also: Texas Law Is Keeping a Tarrant County Paramedic From Letting His Pregnant Wife Die

The fetus, they write, "is extremely abnormal."

Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined. The fetus suffers from hydrocephalus. It also appears that there are further abnormalities, including a possible heart problem, that cannot be specifically determined due to the immobile nature of Mrs. Munoz's deceased body.

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.

See also: Tarrant County Paramedic Erick Munoz Is Suing to Have Pregnant Wife Taken Off Life Support

JPS hasn't commented on the status of Munoz or the fetus. The county-owned hospital is being represented by the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office in the Munoz family's bid to remove her from life support.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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59 comments
paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

As long as government leaves CEOs and big corporations alone and controls every aspect of my life, Im cool.

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

So in this case you anti abortion folks are pro-child suffering...Go you

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

We now know what happens when you use a dead woman as a incubator. Good Job Texas law makers

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Texas had no problem executing a Mexican national this week, even though what they did violates international law.  Texas officials pick and choose what law they see fit to obey, and they've proven it many times over. 

baker24
baker24

It would be interesting to find out who gets to pay for the ICU-level preservation of Ms. Munoz until the fetus is born or dies in utero. I suppose the hospital will bill the husband even though he wanted to terminate the life support for his brain-dead wife. Who will pay for the probable medical care for the fetus, should it survive but with the severe abnormalities that have been suggested? I guess we will.....

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

"Anguish, distress, and sadness".  I guess it takes more to get through to the ice cold souls that run JPS.

Daniel
Daniel

If it is shown that she is brain dead but John Peter Smith Hospital did not release this information (or neglected to run proper neurological tests to determine it), the institution should be shut down -- or at the least, every staff member who had anything to do with this case should lose their medical license permanently. God damn fundies.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

It is the law of the land that the unborn do not have a right to life.  The issue is not when life begins but if the unborn is wanted or unwanted.  Since the stricken woman did not have an abortion prior to her malady, it can only bee assumed she wanted the unborn.  Since her husband is her legal guardian, he now calls the shots on both her and her unborn child.  He speaks for what she wants to be done and if that means unplugging his wife's body from life support thus terminating the pregnancy and her existence, so be it.

The State has no right to intervene on behalf of the unborn.  

mcdallas
mcdallas

I sure wish society could agree on a definition of "life".  Sadly, this does not sound like it would fit many definitions.


bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@whocareswhatithink

That's what happens when religious and political leaders decide they know more about science than the scientists do.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Well, I'm sure that if something were to happen to me in Mexico, they would follow every single letter of international law.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz the only thing worng with that execution is his consulate wasnt notified.  Doesnt change the fact that he still was a convicted murderer, and yes, in Texas murderers get the death penalty

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

It's not JPS...it's your leaders in Austin that created the law.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Ummm...it has been shown that they did run neurological tests and declared her brain dead. The issue at stake is the dis formed fetus growing inside a corpse.

Daniel
Daniel

@mcdallas I believe that the woman is legally a corpse, or should be. (No straight answers appear to be forthcoming from John Fundie Hospital.) The hospital appears to be stalling until the fetus is legally viable -- another three weeks or so, I believe. These pigs need to be shut down. Of course, the district judge who will hear the case is a Perry appointee and likely a fundie himself. It's very difficult not to loathe my home state sometimes.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@everlastingphelps

to paraphrase your point: gee, [fill in the blank] would probably not contact the US consulate, so it is OK if we don't do what is right and is our legal obligation either!

or the trite "but all the other kids are doing it..."

yeah, THAT logic is a winner!

baker24
baker24

I would hope so too, but this is Texas.....

Daniel
Daniel

@Sharon_Moreanus They declared her brain dead but did not issue a death certificate, as would be normal procedure. Also the fetus was nowhere near viable at the time the lady died. This is fundamentalist bullshit at the expense of medical ethics, full stop. When the baby is born hideously deformed and unlikely to survive more than a few months, will some Rick Perry appointee or another compel this man to go a million dollars in debt to artificially sustain it? These people sicken me, and they should sicken any decent person, no matter where you stand on abortion.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Daniel from what Ive read, JPS is happy the family sued so that they can get a better interpretation of the law through the courts.  As it is now, they are following the law as the law reads and didnt believe they had any other choice.  Im sure every single hospital in DFW would be handling this the same way

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Daniel The problem with Texas is that the fiscal conservatives they elect also have extreme right-wing views on social issues.  A fiscal conservative I could perhaps vote for.  The extremist moral police, never.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@baker24 @whocareswhatithink county hospital, county funded...by you and I.  so to answer the question, pretty sure when Mr Munoz rightfully refuses to pay the bills, it get stuck on the taxpayer

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Daniel

I'm not a fan of this law either, but it seems to be pretty straighforward in its wording.

How do you see that JPS is "misreading the law"?

Daniel
Daniel

@mavdog Actually, I'm not sure that my anger is misplaced. I think the hospital is willfully misreading the law. But it is somewhat ambiguously stated.

Daniel
Daniel

@mavdog Yeah, I got the point -- my anger at the hospital is misplaced. The law is shoddily crafted. I'm still mad at Texas, though. 

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Daniel

my take is when she was transported to JPS they put her on the life sustaining equipment, and then they ran tests that said she was pretty much gone, "brain dead".

but she was on the equipment, and the hospital couldn't disconnect. due to her pregnancy, the law say they can't disconnect.

just a very, very sad situation for the family. they have a huge loss, and rather than letting them lay her to rest and trying to get on with things they have this to deal with. every single minute of every single day.....and this could go on for another couple months? good grief.

Daniel
Daniel

@mavdog or medical criteria -- they haven't issued a death certificate, which is what would make her legally dead

Daniel
Daniel

@mavdog Point taken. But is she receiving life-sustaining treatment? Despite all the expense and all the magnificent medical technology, she still meets the legal criteria for being dead.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin

Texas Advanced Directives Act, enacted in 1999

Sec. 166.049.  PREGNANT PATIENTS.  A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient

There's a huge problem with this law, and those that blame JPS are pointing at the wrong group. JPS is stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place on this one....

Daniel
Daniel

@ScottsMerkin @Daniel @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @Sharon_Moreanus  


She was legally dead. The fetus was not viable in a legal sense -- it remains legally abortable. 

Surely this isn't the first time in modern medical history this situation has occurred? Seems hard to believe. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Daniel @ScottsMerkin @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @Sharon_Moreanus its a lose lose situation.  They terminate the support and lawsuits abound for not following the law, they keep the support, lawsuits abound to end the support.  Either way its a shitty ending to a really sad story and situation I hope I never find any of my friends or family in.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @Daniel  Civil disobedience was taught by Thoreau  -- Ghandi and MLK just practiced it as he taught.


In any event, I'm not sure what you could possibly mean.  CD is a defiance of the law, not support of it.  If there was anyone who could practice civil disobedience, it's the ones who think it is immoral to not murder this baby.  They should go in, unhook the mother, and then wait to be arrested for the crime and demand a trial.  That would be civil disobedience.

Daniel
Daniel

@ScottsMerkin @Daniel @Sharon_Moreanus  Good question, but as a hypothetical, it's a stretch. The baby was deprived of oxygen for umpteen minutes. Even if it weren't physically malformed, it almost certainly would be severely mentally handicapped and unable to develop normal motor skills. The fact that the fetus is all fucked up should surprise no one. I'm sure it's no shock to the medically trained Mr. Munoz. 


But suspending these common-sense objections -- if it were going to be born  perfectly healthy, of course it would change or at least temper my opinion. Don't you think  it would change Mr. Munoz's opinion? 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Daniel @Sharon_Moreanus this is where it gets tricky, bc we can say if the baby is born deformed and severely handicapped who is going to pay for it and care for it, but at the same token, if the baby was going to be born perfectly healthy, how would we feel?  Would it change opinions?  

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Daniel  Some of the spineless commenters here should get themselves familiar with the teachings of Gandhi and MLK on civil disobedience.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I have no sympathy for the hospital. Their interpretation of the law is skewed and contrary to its interpretation by other hospitals, e,g., Baylor. As for the hospital's gratitude to the courts for settling the issue, the hospital has sufficient legal resources to have sought a declaratory judgment back in November.

The hospital has put Ft Worth on the line for serious legal damages. If they took these risky actions because of some pro-life belief they will deserve every dollar of damages assessed against them.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Daniel @ScottsMerkin  maybe not every one, but most, and if they did find a hospital to take her to that would have pulled the plug, there would have been right to life activists on their front door and in the courts suing because they felt the hospital broke the law.


Maybe this is the case that gets the law a better interpretation, or even changed, but that is no condolence to what this family is going through

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Daniel Right.  Fundamentalists have a right to believe as they wish.  But they have no right forcing their beliefs on others.

Daniel
Daniel

@ScottsMerkin You may be right, and I should probably stop pre-emptively bashing fundies since the judge hasn't made his ruling yet. (Texas politicians are not famous for allowing reason and compassion to trump ideology, however.) 


I'm not entirely convinced that "every single hospital in DFW" would have handled it this way. For one thing, the fetus was not viable, and abortion is a legal procedure.  

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