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

marlise-munoz094936.jpg
Erick and Marlize Munoz
It's been seven weeks since Marlize Munoz suffered a pulmonary embolism and collapsed at her home. It's been clear for almost as long that she's lost all or most of her brain function and is destined to exist, so long as her heart is kept beating, in a vegetative state.

Her husband, Erick, as well as her parents, want to remove her from life support; it was what she would have wanted, they say. But Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when she was checked into JPS Hospital in Fort Worth, and Texas law prevents doctors from discontinuing "life-sustaining" treatment so long as the fetus remains in her uterus.

The legal issues -- not to mention the ethical ones -- are complex. For one, there's the unsettled question of whether Munoz is legally considered brain dead. If she is, the machines that are keeping her alive are no longer "life-sustaining," and they can be turned off. (JPS hasn't said one way or the other, saying Erick Munoz has not authorized them to release details about his wife's case.)

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

Then you have the uncertain legal standing of the fetus. On the one hand, Supreme Court precedent dictates that a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion pre-viability (Texas recently moved its threshold to 20 weeks), meaning it's not considered a person under the law, meaning that, at 14 weeks, Munoz' fetus wasn't legally considered a person. On the other, Texas laws suggest otherwise, including the aforementioned advanced-directives rule and criminal statutes that treat the death of a fetus at any stage of development as murder.

Further complicating things is Tarrant County's 1988 decision to ban abortions at JPS, which is run by the county.

Given the myriad legal issues, as well as the national debate the case has sparked, JPS welcomed the news that the Munoz family had hired a lawyer, "because the courts are the appropriate venue to provide clarity, direction and resolution in this matter."

This morning, Munoz took another step toward fulfilling JPS' wish for clarity, filing suit in Tarrant County District Court. In the suit, he says the hospital has diagnosed her has "brain dead" and that all life-sustaining treatments should be stopped.

Keeping her alive "makes no sense, and amounts to nothing more than the cruel and obscene mutilation of a deceased body against the expressed will of the deceased and her family."

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

Erick Munoz Sues JPS by Robert Wilonsky

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62 comments
ROCKS123
ROCKS123

BECAUSE JESUS WANTED HER TO CROAK AND THE BABY TO SURVIVE YAY WEEHAW RELIGIOUSNESS

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Having suffered through a family member life support issue; please just mind your own damn business.

missamaycs
missamaycs

i keep reading about people saying what god would want for the baby, but people are missing the fact that she is being kept alive by artifical means. if this had happend back before ventialtors and such there would be no arguements no discussions about the unborn. then father would have been able to greive and mourn his losses. Now he will unless he can take her off the machines keeping alive against Gods will to most likely loose the child anyway. If they were intended to live they the mother would not have died.

realnay
realnay

She is not in a vegetative state, she died 7 weeks ago, what the hospital is doing is medical experimentation with a corpse. Not legal without the consent of the family. This is not an normal medical procedure, there have been maybe 30 cases of brain dead women kept on machines because they were pregnant. As far as people talking about what "God" wants, if he had wanted this women to give birth, she would not have died, plain and simple.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Who is footing the bill for her care if the state mmandates she be kept alive? None of these articles answer that question.

casfam72
casfam72

OH my gosh, the baby is still ALIVE in there. Does he not know what that means, a human baby still living and breathing, fighting to live. PLEASE DO NOT allow this man to care for the baby once it is born. He obviously does not love his own child. So very sad.

claytonhenry
claytonhenry

The woman may be dead, but the baby is alive. I can not understand why on earth a father and husband would not want to keep something alive that is so beautiful, something he and his wife created together. At this point he should be mourning his wife while joyfully getting the nursery ready for his new baby. I just don't understand. This may be about legal issues for the hospital and others, but for the father, this should be about his baby. 

jesdynf
jesdynf

Small government Texas -- Where We Know A Woman's Place.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

Its a sad situation, one Im glad Im not in and one I could never ever begin to judge - either way to be honest.

trish_weige
trish_weige

She was 14 weeks pregnant when admitted to the hospital. It has been 7 weeks which makes her 21 weeks pregnant. According to state law, this is now a protected person. Marlize Munoz may not have wanted to be kept on life support for herself but she would probably feel differently about being kept on for the life of her child. I don't know why her family wouldn't feel the same way. At least part of her will live on.

claytonhenry
claytonhenry

@missamaycs Your argument makes no sense. We do now have the means, and in just a few weeks this baby can be delivered. A live, breathing baby.

Tom434
Tom434

@P1Gunter If the family has health insurance the company may take the position that the treatment is not medical necessary, that issue would be sorted out in court also.  Otherwise since JPS is owned by the Tarrant County Hospital District, the taxpayors of Tarrant County.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@casfam72Get out of this man's personal business. There is no way to know how long the fetus went without oxygen. Why don't YOU volunteer to care for a possibly brain-damaged child its entire life?

ROCKS123
ROCKS123

@claytonhenry YA I GAGREE GOVERNMENT LEAVE CORPORATIONS ALONE AND GET THIS BABY DELIVERED YA WEEHAW JESUS WHEN IT SUITS ME.....GOD BLESS CORPORATE MASTERS

casiepierce
casiepierce

@claytonhenryGet out of this man's personal business. There is no way to know how long the fetus went without oxygen. Why don't YOU volunteer to care for a possibly brain-damaged child its entire life?

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Maybe because a snowball has a better chance in hell than this fetus at JPS.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@trish_weige It may have something to do with the soul-crushing reality of having to see your loved one's corpse reduced to an incubator.

casfam72
casfam72

@casiepierce @casiepierceWhy are you so angry? The father can do whatever he wants to do, I could care less. I am commenting on the baby. The baby is a separate PERSON from the mother and the father. The mother has passed but the baby is still alive. And to give an answer to your question, I did care for my daughter who was diagnosed with MR (Mental Retardation) until the age of 19 when she passed. I also cared for my mother who was disabled the last years of her life and I am caring for my father who has Alzheimer's. It is you my friend who should care for someone who is disabled and maybe in the process you will grow a heart. You will find that they want to live and be loved just like the rest of us NORMAL people.

casfam72
casfam72

@hentai.jeff@casfam72So in other words when you were a fetus you were not considered a child? Why do people have a hard time accepting that a fetus is a living human being. It may not be completely formed but it is in the process, it is growing. To me that says a lot. According to the Websters Dictionary a Fetus is a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth. 


Do the math, the mother was 14 weeks pregnant which means the baby was 4 months. Do you know what a 4 month baby in the womb looks like? It looks like a human not a blob of tissue. 



The Bible teaches that the child in the womb is truly a human child, who even has a relationship with the Lord.

God knows the preborn child. "You knit me in my mother’s womb . . . nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret" (Psalm 139:13,15). God also helps and calls the preborn child. "You have been my guide since I was first formed . . . from my mother’s womb you are my God" (Psalm 22:10-11). "God… from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace" (St. Paul to the Galatians 1:15).

claytonhenry
claytonhenry

@casiepierce @claytonhenry How do you know I don't have personal experience? Not trying to be in anyone's business, just commenting like everyone else. As I said, there are probably legal issues and moral issues that need/will be sorted out. I think discourse is good for our community and society so we can find common ground. I for one, will always choose life.

dingo
dingo

@casiepierce@claytonhenry 

So possibly not brain damaged 21 week old fetus.

At what week do you exactly draw the line between burden and murder? Your logic is incomplete without a solution to that particular dilemma.

 

claytonhenry
claytonhenry

@hentai.jeff @claytonhenry Do we know for certain they ever discussed whether to stay on life support if she were pregnant and there was a chance the baby would survive? We simply don't know. However, a life is a life, no matter what her - or his - wishes. They don't get the option of killing their baby, thank God.

rusknative
rusknative

@CogitoErgoSum@trish_weigeOr maybe that was what pregnancy makes a woman be in order to create a living, born, child.  The corpse is NOT the dead wife...it is where she USED to be...Now, it is still able to protect and grow the child even though the Mother is gone, her body is still there for the baby to be.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@casfam72 @casiepierce Lady, not everyone agrees that a fetus is a child. This man knew his wife's wishes intimately. She wanted to be taken off life support in a case like this. It's unfortunate that a fetus was involved but it is these people's choice -- not yours or your religion's.

casfam72
casfam72

@casiepierce@casfam72I just answered the other post you referenced. You should read it. And yes you are angry. Like I said before, I don't care about the father just the baby. If he decides to disconnect then he will answer to God for his actions, case closed! 


Another thing, your cussing tells me that you are an angry person inside. Praying for you my friend. God Bless.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@casfam72@casiepierceNo, you *couldn't* care less. Anyway, I am not angry and I wonder how you read into that I was. And, as hentai.jeff responded, it is NOT a baby, it is a fetus. Hmm, why didn't you have a response to that? I don't give a shit about your father or your kid, and nobody else have to either, THIS IS NOT YOUR FAMILY! Get your nose- and your opinions- out of other people's personal affairs.

hentai.jeff
hentai.jeff

@casfam72@hentai.jeff@P1Gunter I didn't let bitterness control me either, you confuse compassion for the family and knowledge of biology for bitterness.

I do also apologize for the missunderstanding, but you must admit it's a little different then having the choice to abort, not doing it, and then seeing your son die.

casfam72
casfam72

@hentai.jeff@casfam72@P1Gunter All I am saying is give the baby a chance. I am not sure why you became so defensive towards me. You don't even know me.

As I mentioned in my post my daughter was 19 years old when she passed from ARDS, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Her lungs slowly shut down for three long agonizing months. She was also connected to a feeding tube and a trac. Towards the end of her life she developed Sepis throughout her body which made her body become swollen like a balloon. She was unable to speak or move because she was also paralyzed due to the infection. On her last day she opened up her eyes and looked at me one last time. So yeah, I know what it feels like to lose a child and have to stand there at their funeral but the only difference is that I did not allow bitterness to control me.

I commend you for reading the bible, I think that's awesome. 



hentai.jeff
hentai.jeff

@casfam72 And now I'm selfish, mahm/sir noone who learned to change a feeding tube and trac tube for their child (and I might add had to relearn it for his father last year (you'd be amazed how different it is with an adult as opposed to a baby)) is selfish. I just know biology well and know a fetus becomes a baby at birth.

BTW, the doctors DID decide when and if to disconnect, that was 7 weeks ago when she was declared brain dead. Even failing that why is it their choice and not her's and her husband's? She has a DNR, end of subject, let the woman die with dignity and let the family grieve.

And on the scriptures, read the one I only gave the verse name and number, not only does it advocate it, it gives instructions on it!

hentai.jeff
hentai.jeff

@casfam72 @hentai.jeff @P1Gunter Oh, you DID hit on it, but you didn't get the point. I've been an atheist since I was about 12, it's a result of reading the bible front to back because I wanted to start studying to be a priest. No anger for it's contents, it's a very good work of fiction with some allusions to ancient battles, but nothing more. My issue comes from those who try to impose what they read from it on others, especially the ones who don't also advocate Jesus' most pronounced teachings and essentially become communist. You see sir/mahm you've confused criticism for anger, a rather big mistake. And BTW, if those 3 children you lost were miscarriages, you know nothing of losing a child, I've been party to both that and actually burying a child, guess which one will actually live with you the rest of your days and which one you get over.

casfam72
casfam72

@hentai.jeff@casfam72You are so selfish. This is not about you. Don't you get it. There is a living baby in there. Let the doctors decide when and if to disconnect. Why does it bother you so much? Your baby had a chance at life, wouldn't you want another baby to have that same chance. What if the baby does live? I would hope it would be a happy moment for the father and the other child. 


The Scriptures you presented do not advocate abortion. 


I really hate to end this convo but I'm headed out to work.

hentai.jeff
hentai.jeff

@casfam72 @hentai.jeff  We are indeed entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Let me go through a few of them, my favorite I'll just leave the verses for since it's a long one

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life. -- Exodus 21:22-23

Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them. And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD. -- Numbers 3:15-16

And my favorite, 

Numbers 5:11-31


I also noticed you didn't address the fact I could have aborted my son but didn't.

casfam72
casfam72

@hentai.jeff@casfam72@P1GunterThat's where the anger stems from. I know I lost three of my children which is why I will never ever agree with abortion or ending the life of a child until they are certain the baby will not make it. The baby is not dead yet. End of story!

casfam72
casfam72

@hentai.jeff@casfam72No, the bible does not advocate abortion.That is ridiculous. I can see there is no point in continuing this conversation. You are set in your ways and that's fine. We are all entitled to our opinions.

hentai.jeff
hentai.jeff

@casfam72 @P1Gunter @hentai.jeff I'm an atheist, I could care less about your god, your threats that he will judge my actions are like someone saying Santa won't give me presents, since I'm in my late 20s I'd say that has no bearing on me. Also did you just read up there that I had a son diagnosed in the womb with a heart condition, a heart condition that lead to his death 6 months after his birth. I know half of the pain he's going through right now, he's lost a wife and child, it's time to stop dragging it out.

casfam72
casfam72

@P1Gunter@casfam72@hentai.jeff That's fine, you have your opinions. Your hatred towards the unborn child and the bible go hand in hand. Only a true child of God would want to save and protect another human life not end it. Let God be the judge of our actions. Have a good night.

hentai.jeff
hentai.jeff

@casfam72 @hentai.jeff  Yes, I wasn't a child, I was a fetus. As a father of a heart baby I also know what a fetus looks like at 4 months gestation well because that was about the point my son was diagnosed with HLHS.

As for the bible, seeing as this is a legal issue since the state of Texas won't allow a living will to be enforced, your holy book has no bearing on this. To even try would violate the establishment clause of the first amendment. That aside did you actually know the bible advocates abortion and in one case even gives instructions? Read that thing a little closer.

dingo
dingo

@casiepierce@dingo@claytonhenry 

It matters enough for you to comment, but your comments do not stand up if your logic does not withhold scrutiny. So you are basically talking nonsense by saying its none of society's business if there is murder, because its not a murder because the line is somewhere that is not a concern to society.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@dingo@casiepierce@claytonhenry*I* am not the who has to "draw the line", so whatever I believe doesn't matter, and whatever you believe doesn't matter. The only point I have been attempting to make is that it's none of your business, or Terry Shaivo's brother for that matter. No matter what happens tomorrow or next week, or next month, you will still be going about your daily life with no interruptions to it. And thousands and thousands of babies will still be born unto this world.

dingo
dingo

@casiepierce@dingo@claytonhenry  

Doesn't matter.


So by your logic a 8 month developed fetus has no rights  as a human being because, despite it being developed fully enough to live in an ICU, it is not a human being.


You are either an idiot or mentally ill if you really follow that logic.


If you do not, then, AGAIN, at what week do you individually draw the line?

casiepierce
casiepierce

@dingo@casiepierce@claytonhenryDoesn't matter. It's not your business to say when there is a "line between burden and murder". If this woman's husband can live with his decisions, then you should respect that and leave it alone. Period.

hentai.jeff
hentai.jeff

@claytonhenry@hentai.jeffDoes it matter if we know for certain? The answer is a resounding no. The only one who has the right to interpret the DNR in this case is the husband, not the State of Texas, not you or me, not your sky daddy. He knew his wife better then anyone, save maybe her parents, and the parents agree, it's time to carry out her wishes and let the family grieve.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@rusknative @CogitoErgoSum @trish_weige Sure, that law wasn't passed by overtly religious folks. Believe that and I've got a bridge to sell you. This guy requested the life support be stopped weeks ago, before the 20 weeks. He was denied this, against the law and the wishes of his wife.

rusknative
rusknative

@CogitoErgoSum@rusknative@trish_weige

Nice talk.  Speak a lot of Latin these days? Satanist? My comments are not religious at all. The Texas Fetus Protection Act, Policy 107 says it all....cannot kill a fetus after 21 weeks...this is a terrible deal, but the law MAKES it really complex, not morals, ethics, nor religion.

ROCKS123
ROCKS123

@rusknative @CogitoErgoSum @trish_weige JESUS WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS GOVERNMENT SHOULD REGULATE THE POOR BUT DEREGULATE THE RICH YAY WEE HAW BOW DOWN TO YOUR CORPORATE OVERLORDS...JESUS WHEN IT SUITS US YAAYYY

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@rusknative @CogitoErgoSum @trish_weige Her body is dead. It is being fed oxygen by a machine. It is nothing more than an extension of the machine. These people wanted her to be removed from life support. She was a paramedic and knew what she wanted her husband to do. This is their business, not the state's. Take your religious authoritarianism and shove it where the sun don't shine.

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