Science and Tech


Husband Sues To Take Pregnant Wife Off Life Support

Marlise Munoz, 33, has been on life support at a Fort Worth hospital since September.
Posted at 2:08 PM, Jan 15, 2014

A Texas man is suing the hospital that won't take his pregnant wife off life support despite her wishes and those of her family. Erick Munoz filed the suit, which insists his wife, Marlise, is dead and that she gave clear instructions to not be kept alive by artificial means.

​​"She collapsed in November and is considered brain dead. JPS Hospital says it's following a state law that requires life-sustaining care for a pregnant patient." (Via KDFW)

Fox News points to a 2012 report by an abortion-rights advocacy group saying 12 states — including Texas — automatically invalidate advance health care directives when the woman is pregnant.

Section 166.049 of Texas state law says, "A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient."

REPORTER: "Thomas Mayo, a law professor at SMU who helped write the Texas statute, says the hospital may be misinterpreting the law."

​MAYO: "If she's brain dead, the Texas Advance Directives Act does not apply." (Via CBS)

The hospital has not publicly declared the now 21-weeks-pregnant Marlise Munoz dead. The Munoz family, however, maintains doctors have told them Marlise is, in fact, brain dead.

At that point, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says the Munoz family asked the hospital to take 33-year-old Marlise off life support — and were denied. 

An NBC op-ed suggests the hospital shouldn't continue to lean on the legislation: ​"Even if Marlise were alive ... the hospital has the choice to do the right thing ethically, follow the wishes of her husband and family and stop intervening."


The hospital continues to follow the line that it doesn't have a choice — and neither does the Munoz family. A spokesperson pointed out in an interview with KXAS that a judge will make the call.

"We are encouraged that Mr. Munoz has gone to legal counsel. ... The court is the proper venue to help us all."

Neither the hospital nor the family has commented on the condition of the fetus at this point. No court date has been set.