That’s how far along 33-year-old Marlise Munoz is with her baby son. Except, as Yahoo reports, Marlise is on life support after suffering what doctors in Texas think was a pulmonary embolism on November 26. She never regained consciousness.
Now her husband, Erick, is fighting to be able to take Marlise off life support. However, Texas law puts the rights of the fetus over the rights of its mother.
That said, doctors have no idea what kind of life the baby would lead if born. Although the baby has a normal heartbeat, Marlise suffered oxygen deprivation which could very well have caused brain damage in the child.
“It’s hard to reach the point where you wish your wife’s body would stop,” Munoz tells ABC News’ Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate WFAA-TV. “They don’t know how long the baby was without nutrients and oxygen… But I’m aware what challenges I might face ahead.”
Marlise had lost her brother and told her husband many times she would never want to be kept alive by machines. He says he wants to honor his wife’s wishes even though he knows his decision is unpopular with many people. He faces an uphill battle. Although he and his wife planned to sign do-not-resuscitate orders, they hadn’t done so before she collapsed. It will be tough to convince a judge to grant an order putting the mother’s wishes ahead of her child.
As Yahoo notes:
Texas law states this on pregnant patients: “A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.”
And on DNR forms, 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.”
Arthur L. Caplan is the director of the medical ethics division at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and says he supports Munoz’ right to take his wife off life support.
“It sounds like they are well-informed people–he is an EMT and she is a paramedic–around a lot of resuscitation,” Caplan said. “And she was clear about her wishes, if she had an understanding at the time of these discussions when she was pregnant… As much as we might want to save the fetus, if both parents agreed that they didn’t want technology to keep [the fetus] alive and thought about it and discussed it, then to me Texas law could be overridden by a judge who says there is a right to stop life support,” he said.
I absolutely support Munoz decision to take his wife off life support. She is basically dead. The fetus would not survive outside the womb which means it would’ve died along with its mother. At some point, we need to stop playing God and let people go when their time comes. If the baby had been weeks from its due date, able to survive outside the womb on its own, that’s one thing. But keeping a woman alive for months and months against what her husband says her wishes would’ve been isn’t ethical… But that’s just me, what do you think?
Read more from Monica and her husband Serge on Babble: