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Mother of Pregnant Texas Woman on Life Support Wants Law Changed

by: Joe Deshotel

Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:00 AM CST

A Texas family is experiencing a prolonged tragedy that began just two days before Thanksgiving when Erick Munoz found his pregnant wife lying on the floor unconscious. She now remains on life support against her family's wishes after an EEG found her to be completely brain dead.

The issue is a Texas law that states, "A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient." The husband told CNN, "We both knew that we both didn't want to be on life support." This was backed up by the woman's mother who also called for the Texas legislature to change or repeal the law.

Even though the fetus -- which was 14 weeks at the time -- remains unviable, the state law supersedes even a written directive and the Fort Worth hospital intends to follow the law saying, "it's that clear." Arthur Caplan, a Bioethicist at NYU Medical Center called the law, "a very bad, overly broad restriction of individual freedom." and said, "why the legislature of Texas has any right to get involved in the care of Marlise Munoz when her wishes are so well informed and so clear is not self-evident."

See what else Caplan said and potential medical costs below the jump.

When it comes to medical care for the very ill, Erick and Marlise are experts. Both had worked as paramedics in Texas, and Marlise lost her brother tragically four years ago. Given that loss and what they knew first-hand could happen to those who are resuscitated but very sick they had many serious, in-depth conversations about what to do if the worst happened to them. - Arthur Caplan

Another major concern will be the medical bill since life support can cost several thousands dollars a day and it will take at least another several weeks before doctors know the status of the fetus let alone if it can be brought to term. It is currently believed that the mother lacked oxygen to her brain for over an hour and it is likely if the fetus defies the odds and a miscarriage that it could have severe disabilities and developmental issues. The couple already has a 14 month old child and Erick has received about $7,000 in donations for his wife's medical bills, but he will need far more if his second child requires special needs.

The woman's mother spent Christmas at her daughter's bedside and described the situation as "a living hell," and said that the grieving process won't begin to end until she is taken off of life support. "I can't imagine their intent would be for someone so young in pregnancy, at 14 weeks, to have them on life support until mid-May," she said of the Texas Legislature. It's also unclear if the the State intends to pay for the mandated treatment.

You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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