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Should Pregnant Woman Be Taken Off Life Support?

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posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 09:24 PM
Marlise Munoz was found unconscious and blue in the face on her kitchen floor on Nov 26th. She was unresponsive to paramedics and CPR attempts were to no avail. Doctors say that she suffered a pulmonary embolism, had massive brain swelling and no longer has brain activity

Because she was 14 weeks pregnant at the time, Texas law is keeping her alive and on life support, against her's and her family's wishes.

"Section 166.049 Pregnant Patients. A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient," the code reads.

Even more, in a health directive form found under the Health and Safety Code, it reads, "I understand under Texas law this directive has no effect if I have been diagnosed as pregnant."

Munoz said in a WFAA News report that four years ago, when Marlise's brother was killed in an accident, she told him that she would never want to be on life support — something they had discussed many times since.

But according to the Center for Women Policy Studies, as of 2012, Texas and 11 other states have automatically invalidated pregnant women's advance directives to refrain from using extraordinary measures to keep them alive, and others have slightly less restrictive but similar laws.

Her husband Erick Munoz has requested that life support be pulled, so that he and their families can grieve, and now added to his grief is the possibility of damage to the fetus that the state is forcing the shell of his wife's body to house and nourish.

Munoz, who could not be reached for comment, wrote on WFAA's Facebook page, "All I know is that she was without oxygen long enough for her to have massive brain swelling. I unfortunately know what that type of damage could do to a child during crucial developmental time."

Here is a case where the husband should clearly have the right to end life support and therefore the life his future offspring. Although, this case should in no way be considered an abortion, the "death" of his wife happened well within the legal time period of abortion, at 14 weeks, and even now at 18 weeks is well under the 20 week cut off period that Texas has legislated. But the pro-life legislatures want to force even brain dead women to carry unwanted pregnancies!

"They don't know how long the baby was without nutrients and oxygen," Erick said. "But I'm aware what challenges I might face ahead." Erick worries that the baby may have been critically injured in the womb.

The next series of tests of the fetus will be at 24 weeks, which is mid-February. Family members say doctors may know then when the fetus can be removed.

Erick said doctors have even discussed taking the fetus to full term.

This is so sick, crazy and so wrong! The husband wants to let his wife and his unborn offspring go, but the law won't let him. I just can't rationalize the thought process behind this, even from the most pro-life corner of my imagination!

I can't even imagine how living and growing inside your dead mother might affect the psyche of someone, but knowing that fact later would have to have an unpleasant affect on one's self image and outlook on life, in my mind.



edit on 20-12-2013 by windword because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 09:30 PM
reply to post by windword

I don't know how to respond to this except to say "WHAT"!!! Are you kidding me? If the mother is in the situation you stated then by all means yes. Except for her's very early.

The only thing I have to say is that I believe you said the mother was 14 weeks with child. No insurance company or hospital will keep her on life support long enough at her stage in pregnancy to survive her unborn fetus. What a bummer

At that stage it's hard to say. However, if the father has the financial means...then so be it.

Save that child.

What a sad situation for the family .
edit on 12/20/13 by ThePublicEnemyNo1 because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:20 PM
It may sound callous, but the present political mindset allows a woman to kill her child but not a man.

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:28 PM
reply to post by badgerprints


There is no excuse for not allowing the husband and father, in this case, to make the same decision that any woman could legally make. Not only that, but because of this "unwanted" early pregnancy, he can't even mourn the death of his wife, A right that he would have, to end the life support and to mourn her death, had his wife not been pregnant.

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:31 PM
In times past, there were many a children born when their families village was raped and pillaged, c-section by spear anyone? Women tossing babies into the streets who turned out to have full lives, etc. In other words, from tragedy.

While I agree with abortion, I don't see this as an abortion. Unless the woman signed something saying she wanted to be taken off life support in the event she was pregnant, she signed a DNR for herself only.

If the kid ends up growing up happy and healthy, I imagine the dad is going to feel like a real dick.

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:33 PM

reply to post by badgerprints


There is no excuse for not allowing the husband and father, in this case, to make the same decision that any woman could legally make. Not only that, but because of this "unwanted" early pregnancy, he can't even mourn the death of his wife, A right that he would have, to end the life support and to mourn her death, had his wife not been pregnant.

I'm not an abortion advocate but if it's legal for the mother to kill her child and the mother is now essentially dead, well why wouldn't the father be in his legal right?
Like I said, I don't support abortion but if she could, why not him?

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:41 PM
This is a heartbreaking story. This woman - her body anyway - is being used as a pawn.

Fetal development is a very sensitive process - especially in the first trimester (which she was just getting out of when she nearly died). I don't understand why they aren't doing more intensive testing on the baby to confirm he or she is OK. They mention they are checking the fetal heartrate -- how about some ultrasounds?? They could be tracking development in a much more meaningful way to see if this child really has a chance at life, or if they are just compounding this tragedy.

But they aren't really interested in this child, and whether or not his or her development is even compatible with life. This has nothing to do with what is morally right, or what is best for the woman or the baby. It's just politics. And it is absolutely tragic.

ETA: Even if I personally didn't want to be on life support, I can honestly say that my opinion on that would be different if I were pregnant. If my child's life could be spared, then I absolutely would want to be on life support. As someone above said, if that wasn't spelled out explicitly that she wanted no life support even if she were pregnant, I can see where this gets hairy... but still... it doesn't seem like the health of the baby is being thoroughly investigated at this stage, and I just cannot understand that.
edit on 20-12-2013 by VegHead because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:43 PM
I am pro choice, so a pretty easy decision for me. Even if I was Pro-life, this would be pretty easy, I am sad for the loss of two lives, but the father and husband needs to be able to make the decision. If the aneurysm caused the mother to lose brain activity, it has most likely caused severe harm to the baby as well.

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:48 PM
Blue State Texas
I guess "less government involvement" only applies if it fits your agenda

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:52 PM

reply to post by badgerprints


There is no excuse for not allowing the husband and father, in this case, to make the same decision that any woman could legally make. Not only that, but because of this "unwanted" early pregnancy, he can't even mourn the death of his wife, A right that he would have, to end the life support and to mourn her death, had his wife not been pregnant.

So… If I can prove my wife is braindead I can abort her pregnancies? Cause she's pretty braindead…

edit on 20-12-2013 by boncho because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 10:54 PM
reply to post by boncho

Unless the woman signed something saying she wanted to be taken off life support in the event she was pregnant, she signed a DNR for herself only.

I wonder if she was an organ donor?
Buh Dump Dum

edit on 20-12-2013 by windword because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 11:27 PM
14 weeks - so they're going to keep this woman's body alive for another 26 weeks, induce the birth and then allow her to die?

Will they also send the medical bills to the husband?

This situation is so wrong on so many counts. Give the husband closure rather than keeping the wounds open. What gives the state the authority to act in this manner? Are they doing so out of compassion and care for the child, or as a political statement?

Has it been decided that the unborn now have rights that trump those who are living, as well as those who are simply being used as vessels for those unborn?

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 11:36 PM
reply to post by windword

I guess that it would depend on the time and viability of the pregnancy 14 weeks seems to early in the process to justify it. Parents should have a little more power over their children that the state has over their citizens, and the same about individual citizens in regards to the state, balancing the state above the rest is just wrong even if seen as justifiable to address fringe situations.

posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 11:48 PM
reply to post by windword

Thank God - after the stuff I have heard people say on ATS lately, I thought your thread was titled "Should Pregnant Women be Taken Off Life Support" and was about to give up on human decency. I thought the thread was going to spout some B.S. about pregnant women being too much of a burden on the system to be on life support or some such nonsense.

Putting that mindset aside - that's an interesting moral question, O.P.! Wow... this is a double-whammy... an abortion and a euthanasia argument.

Interestingly enough, the only good argument I heard in support of taking someone off life support was when I was in the Catholic School and someone made a presentation that had the argument that life support itself was artificial, and that it against God's will to keep someone alive artificially.

I'm going to stick to that argument right now. And I'm going to say take her off. All religious arguments for keeping her on life support are moot. Now it's up to her husband and real ethics.
edit on 20pmFri, 20 Dec 2013 23:53:10 -0600kbpmkAmerica/Chicago by darkbake because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 12:37 AM
How sad is that? I really don't know...

I think as a mother I would definitely want my child to survive if it was at all possible. If it meant using my body to house the child until term, then i would be ok with that.

But this decision is difficult. Many of us discuss "what if's" in our marriages, relationships, etc. about what we would wish if we were in certain circumstances. BUT I guarantee that this line of thinking is RARELY if EVER discussed. Who really goes that far into catastrophic thinking?

So the family is left, trying to grieve but can't (not fully anyway), and wondering how the baby will be affected by all of this... which is a very valid worry.

I am inclined to think that the hospital wants to do this (to test and get results) more than they care for the survival and well being of the baby in question. By court order they can now do pretty much anything they deem fit to see the baby to term. Who knows what that will entail? It's a free study for them and it's disgusting IMO. I am all for medical research and advancement, but not at this kind of cost.

I can't give a yes or no answer on what I think the family should do. I think I know what is right, and other things come up right on the heels of that to make me change my mind again. The decision would be easy if not for the baby and I do understand their wishes. It's heartbreaking to be sure. I know that I am blessed that I do not have to make it as are the rest of us.
edit on 12/21/2013 by Kangaruex4Ewe because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 01:44 AM
Force feeding a brain dead person for the remaining 26 weeks lying still in bed. . . I'm not sure gestating a fetus for that amount of time in those conditions would be recommended.

Optimal fetal development requires many things, but the question is how rigid would these be enacted by the hospital. They're not really trained for this exotic situation, just feed her is not going to cut it I guess. Plus who will foot the humungous hospital bill? The insurance company?


It presents interesting debate on the situation when a person is legally dead so all that is left is a gestation incubator. Does a braindead person retain her right to bodily integrity? What was the wishes of the mother beforehand, the unborn was not "unwanted" afterall.

Or can they be chosen by someone else. The early term of the fetus is important.

In Roe v Wade the rights of the unborn do not trump that of the woman. How does it play out in this situation when the woman in effectively deceased.

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 02:12 AM
reply to post by cuckooold

Once the state steps in, and has declared the patient brain dead, no, the family cannot be billed, nor the insurance. If, in fact, they had insurance, the billing ceased the date and time she was declared brain dead.

At this point, the state assumed custodial care, and financial responsibility for the mother and the baby. Once the state is calling the shots, they pay the bils.

My concerns would not only lie in the possible damage to the fetus, but, in keeping a body on longterm life support, the potential damge to the fetus is great, as well.

The body must be sustaned with electrolyte balance, hormone balance, cardiac balance, which is a seperate system, and lung balance. All of the drugs being used, and potentially used, in this, can be quite harmful to the baby.

For instance, if the load becomes too much for her heart, cardiac drips and such are not good for fetal health.

Again, this is all going to depend on her general health, which is different than her brain death. Something, however, led to the PE to begin with. That alone speaks volumes about her health leading up to the incident.

My concerns would definitely be fetal health.

I have seen this done twice. Once was a brain dead mother who delivered a normal infant, the other was a severely brain damaged mother, who delievered a normal infant.

In both cases, the families fought over custody of the infant after it was born. In both cases, the mothers were unwed, and it was the maternal family fighting the father for custody.

In both cases, the family wanted to pull the plug, but the biological father stepped in and refused.

In both cases, the state assumed custody of the mother, and assumed all financial responsibility, as well.

edit on 21-12-2013 by Libertygal because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 02:31 AM
Wow what a thought. I am about as far along as her and this has given me a lot to think about, how incredibly heartbreaking.

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 04:25 AM
This is not an entirely new scenario >>>

There was a case local to me roughly 60 years ago, prior to what we know now of

'life support', and I think before the term 'brain dead' was coined.

As I remember it, a young pregnant woman [3 to 4 months] pushing a toddler in a

pram was hit by some logs falling of a lorry, she was taken to hospital unconscious

she was kept in a 'refridgerated' state through out her pregnancy and was delivered

of a baby, she then slowly regained consciousness and the newspaper reports

confirmed her return to normality and the child was fine. However she had to relearn

many things, speech, walking etc, and it was said that she never quite returned to

full normality due to the brain damage she had incurred.

At the time it was considered quite the 'local' miracle!!

posted on Dec, 21 2013 @ 04:36 AM
Wow.. Who in their right mind would want the baby killed? The Wife is going to die, but why not have the Child? Time to grieve, or is there a life insurance he can't wait to get his hands on?

This doesn't make sense

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