Husband of Pregnant Woman Wants Her Off Life Support

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Marlise Munoz (Courtesy: Lynne Machado via CNN)

Marlise Munoz (Courtesy: Lynne Machado via CNN)

Marlise Munoz (Courtesy: Lynne Machado via CNN)

(CNN) — Erick Munoz wants to see his wife’s wish fulfilled this holiday season, but it’s one that carries ethical and legal challenges: To be taken off of life support.

Marlise Munoz, 33, is in serious condition in the intensive care unit at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, hospital officials said. She is unconscious and on a ventilator, her husband told CNN affiliate WFAA, but she wouldn’t have wanted her life sustained by a machine.

“We talked about it. We’re both paramedics,” he told WFAA. “We’ve seen things out in the field. We both knew that we both didn’t want to be on life support.”

Complicating an already difficult situation is that Munoz is also pregnant, about 18 weeks along, WFAA reported. Texas state law prohibits withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient, regardless of her wishes.

Patients can indicate their future wishes about medical treatment, in the event that they are unable to communicate them, through forms called advance directives. But in Texas, under the Health and Safety Code, such a form includes the provision “I understand that under Texas law this Directive has no effect if I have been diagnosed as pregnant.”

Erick Munoz told WFAA doctors said his wife may have suffered a pulmonary embolism, which happens when blood clots travel to the lungs from elsewhere in the body. They do not know how long the baby went without nutrients and oxygen.

The hospital would not release specific details about Marlise Munoz’s condition, but officials said the hospital would follow Texas law regarding care during pregnancy.

“We have a responsibility as a good corporate citizen here in Tarrant County to also provide the highest quality care we can for all of our patients,” said J.R. Labbe, vice president of communications and community affairs for JPS Health Network, in a statement.

“But at all times, we will follow the law as it is applicable to health care in the state of Texas. And state law here says you cannot withhold or withdraw life sustaining treatment for a pregnant patient. It’s that clear.”

The husband and wife, both paramedics in the Tarrant County area, have a 14-month-old son named Mateo.

Erick Munoz and Marlise Munoz’s mother did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CNN.

Erick Munoz found his wife unconscious on November 26, around 2 a.m. He performed CPR on her and then called 911, WFAA reported.

Since that day, the pregnant woman has been on life support, her husband said. Tests have shown that the fetus has a normal heart beat, he said. At 24 weeks, doctors may know more about when the fetus can be taken out, Munoz’s family told WFAA. Doctors have also discussed the possibility of taking the fetus to full term.

He told WFAA that his wife had said she would not want to be kept alive by machine, and said he has reached “the point where you wish that your wife’s body would stop.”

Munoz wears his wife’s pink and blue bracelets on his wrist, WFAA reported. Her wedding ring is on his pinkie.

When Munoz walks in the door, he said his son Mateo is waiting for his mother to show up.

“You can see it in his eyes,” Munoz said.


  • mary

    When will they know if the child has suffered damage?will the state take responsibility for the medical care & pay hospital bills for the mother & child until its born & after if. It has problems after birth ???

  • Patricia V

    I believe the wife’s wishes should be carried out bit when a defenseless child is growing inside of her I would think he would want that part of her to. I understand how difficult it is to watch someone on life support I’ve done it but that baby deserves a chance to live. Wouldn’t you think the mother if she could speak for herself would say save the child. I just know being a mother myself of would be the first thing I would do. Our bodies are just the vessel holding our souls until its set free so I think she would be at rest knowing her child was safe and alive even if she couldn’t be. Just saying.

  • Robert young

    Wow..the pro choice voice seems to be” our choice, at all costs” about a little common sense thrown in. then you wouldn’t sound like such an idiot

  • Concerned

    I am very prolife! However, the chances that this baby will have no severe brain damage is slim to none. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen a mom code and be down as long as this mom provably was and the baby was a total vegetable. So while I don’t believe that you should go ripping babies out because you aren’t in the mood to have a baby right now, I do believe if the other could speak, she wouldn’t want them to keep her alive for the baby. It’s not about the dad not wanting the baby. It’s about the fact that this poor kid, if there is any function, would live a miserable life! Ever seen a kid like that? My husband works in special education. It’s sad some of the kids he has. Most are just laying there drooling on themselves but some have just enough function to get sad or mad about things but have no way of commumicating. How depressing and sad would that be to not live a decent life and to want to communicate but can’t? No I don’t think all babies with birth defects should be aborted. But a baby going without oxygen this long is just not going to be a “normal” child. It’s sad. And what does that do for the 14 month at home? His life will forever be changed if this baby is born all because they had to keep mom on life support and to have a baby that has very little chance of doing anything other than drooling on his/herself.

    • Robert young

      I understand if the unborn is a veg. But it’s too early to tell that is the issu#. Why is hubby in such a hurry??

    • Wow

      That is a lot of assumptions!!! I don’t think you have very
      Much respect for the disabled!!! I too work with children
      With disabilities and your description is just absurd!! I’m sure it’s not easy
      But geez they are people too and I don’t think they are
      All that in happy!!

  • Brenda

    Well said, Concerned. The husband should make the choice. He and his other child will be the ones who will have to live with the results. The government and the hospital will certainly not be around to face the consequences of the decision.

  • Beverly

    They do not know how long the baby went without nutrients and oxygen. She is unconscious and on a ventilator, her husband told CNN affiliate WFAA, but she wouldn’t have wanted her life sustained by a machine. The article doesnt say if the couple talked about being on a ventilator while she was pregnant. Also there is no mention of brain death. Her decision might have been different. One can not plan ahead for every detail of what ifs.

  • Judy

    Unbelieveable! I am sure that if this mother would have been ask the question if she was pregnant would she stay on life support till her child was born it would have been a completely different answer. I would not want to be kept on life support either, but if I was pregnant that would be a different situation all together. A mother will give her life to save her child. Do you really think that she wouldn’t give a few months on life support to save her child?? Hell yea she would!

  • Rachael

    I am sorry for this families loss. The wife is far enough along in the pregnancy for a foetal anomaly scan to be done on the baby inside of her. It won’t be able to show every problem, but it’s a good indicator if there’s anything wrong with the baby’s brain, kidneys, digestive tract or heart. Given the technology today I hope Doctor’s are able to help this man and his family make the best choice.

  • Jujubean

    Carry out your wife’s wishes, it’s your decision not the evil Christians who should be fed to the lions …. Good grief.

  • Beth Schaefer

    The law is in place for a reason and he is making what he wants public. So if this child is normal which in God’s hands can happen the child may find out that’s it’s dad wanted them dead. That is a very horrible reality.

  • Brandy

    This is a very sad story, but it’s not the hospitals fault, they can’t just break the law, so therefore he cannot carry out his wife’s wishes. Was there a living will or anything in writing? And did the couple talk about this subject when she was pregnant or before she got pregnant? Her wishes could be completely different being pregnant or not pregnant. I wouldn’t want to be kept on life support if I were brain dead, but if there was a little chance that I could come out of it and I have children, I wouldn’t want to die. I guess if this man wants her off life support, he will have to fight the court and law, not the hospital. And since the fetus is already 24 weeks – I highly doubt that he will win.

  • sara

    He seems in a hurry to pull the plug…Hmm wonder why? He sure does not look like he’s hurting in this video…. You would think as a father he would want to try to keep the baby alive..

  • Keepa Lowprofile

    He states that. That doesn’t mean its true. If she really felt that way and being a paramedic don’t you think she would have filled out a form stating what her wishes are. Maybe he did this to her and he wants do end the life so he can have her cremated and dispose of all evidence.

    A directive wouldn’t matter anyway… the law would have made that void due to the baby she is pregnant with.

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