A Texas man's pregnant wife is on life support and he wants her taken off even though the move would also leave their baby dead.
Erick Munoz says his wife Marlise, 33, who hasn't regained consciousness since suffering an embolism in November, would not have wanted to live life hooked up to a machine.
The life of the unborn baby, which may have already suffered irreparable damage, now hangs in the balance and Munoz says doctors should fulfill her wishes--which would end the lives of both his wife and their unborn child.
But in Texas, doctors must take all life saving measures to preserve the life of an unborn baby, which in this case remains too immature to survive outside the womb.
That means doctors' hands-along with Erick's-are tied.
"I don't agree with this law," Erick told ABC News as he sadly browsed old photos of his wife and their 1-year-old son Mateo.
Erick and Marlise were both paramedics. Erick says he and his wife had seen enough in the line of duty to know what they would want in this situation.
And this isn't it.
"We knew what her wishes were," Erick, who found his wife unconscious on their kitchen floor and fought in vain to resuscitate her, told WFAA.
However, Marlise's wishes don't matter.
Per Texas state law: "A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient."
The couple had merely discussed their mutual desire to never be kept alive by a machine and hadn't actually signed a do not resuscitate order.
But that wouldn't have made a difference.
Texas gives rights to the unborn fetus over the mother's wishes even when a DNR has been signed, where the state's form reads, 'I understand under Texas law this directive has no effect if I have been diagnosed as pregnant.'
That means Marlise and Erick's baby will likely be taken to full term, or for as long as it appears safe for the fetus to remain in the womb.
Now at 18 weeks, the fetus still cannot be safely delivered. Only at 24 to 28 weeks would doctors deem it safe to deliver via cesarean.
For now, doctors say the baby has a normal heartbeat, though it remains unknown how it was affected when Marlise's brain was deprived of oxygen.
"They don't know how long the baby was without nutrients and oxygen,' Erick told ABC. 'But I'm aware what challenges I might face ahead."
Munoz says that, though he doesn't agree with the law, he's not interested in fighting a protracted legal battle.
"It's hard to reach the point where you wish your wife's body would stop," he said.
- Daily Mail