Erick and Marlise Munoz

Lawyers for Marlise Munoz's family confirm she is clinically brain dead

"Mrs. Munoz is clinically brain dead, and therefore deceased under Texas law," said the family's attorneys


Katie McDonough
January 18, 2014 3:08AM (UTC)

The legal team representing the family of Marlise Munoz confirmed Friday that the Texas woman has been clinically brain dead since she collapsed in her home while 14 weeks pregnant.

"We have recently received Marlise Munoz's medical records, and can now confirm that Mrs. Munoz is clinically brain dead, and therefore deceased under Texas law," attorneys Jessica Janicek and Heather King said in an e-mail statement to CNN.

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Munoz's husband, Erick, has been fighting to honor his wife's end-of-life directive and remove her from a respirator, ventilator and other machines.

Munoz's parents support the decision. “It’s not a matter of pro-choice and pro-life,” Munoz’s mother, Lynne Machado, told the New York Times last week. “It’s about a matter of our daughter’s wishes not being honored by the state of Texas.”

“All she is is a host for a fetus,” Munoz’s father, Ernest Machado, added. “I get angry with the state. What business did they have delving into these areas? Why are they practicing medicine up in Austin?”

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Tom Mayo, a Southern Methodist University law professor who helped write the applicable Texas law, said he believes the hospital is misinterpreting it.

"She's not a patient anymore," he said. "And so I don't see how we can use a provision of the law that talks about treating or not treating a patient in a case where we really don't have a patient."

The Texas law states that a "person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient."

Mayo said, "The provision they seem to be relying on is called the pregnancy exclusion. More than 30 states have this pregnancy exclusion in their law. ... If they're relying on that provision, I think Texas law in that respect does not compel the provision of life-sustaining treatment."


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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