Pregnant, brain dead woman's husband sues hospital

SMU Law Professor and Medical Ethicist Tom Mayo talks about state law and the case of Marlise Munoz, who is 19 weeks pregnant but whose family reportedly has been told she is brain dead.

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.”

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