2014 Archives

Pregnant, brain dead woman's husband sues hospital


The following story by The Associated Press was published in the Jan. 14, 2014, edition of The Australian, The Chicago Sun Times and numerous other media worldwide. Tom Mayo of SMU, associate professor of law and a medical ethicist, provided expertise for this story.

January 15, 2014

The Associated Press

THE husband of a pregnant, brain dead US woman has sued the hospital keeping her on life support, saying doctors are doing so against her and her family's wishes.

The lawsuit filed in Texas district court asks a judge to order John Peter Smith Hospital to remove life support for Marlise Munoz, who fell unconscious in November.

But the hospital says a state law prohibits lifesaving treatment from being denied to pregnant patients. Experts familiar with the law say the hospital is incorrectly applying the statute.

"Marlise Munoz is dead, and she gave clear instructions to her husband and family - Marlise was not to remain on any type of artificial 'life sustaining treatment', ventilators or the like," the lawsuit says. "There is no reason JPS should be allowed to continue treatment on Marlise Munoz's dead body."

Erick Munoz says he and his wife are both paramedics and are familiar with end-of-life issues. His wife's parents agree. . .

Tom Mayo, a Southern Methodist University law professor, said he did not believe the law applied in this case.
“It simply says that if you were to take the life support away, you’d be outside the subchapter,” Mayo said. “It doesn’t have an affirmative command in it that you must keep life support going.”

Read the full story.

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