Skip to comments.Why Did the Husband of One Brain Dead Wife Let His Baby Live and the Other Didn’t?
Posted on 02/13/2014 5:42:15 PM PST by Morgana
Many in the pro-life community are reflecting on two tragic stories with very different outcomes: the Munoz situation in Texas and the Benson situation in Canada. In both, the wife and mother was declared brain dead. In the Benson story, Iver Benson, son of Dylan Benson and his now deceased wife, Robyn, has been allowed to live.
In the Munoz situation, the result was the heartbreaking loss of both mother and child. We offer our sincere condolences to both families faced with these tragic situations.
Texas Attorney Jeff Turner is a long-time friend of LLDF who has supported our work over the years. His reflection on the tragedy of the Baby Munoz situation is compelling and he has allowed LLDF to share it.
On Friday, January 24, the 96th District Courtroom in Tarrant County, Texas was the stage for a tragic tale, not told by idiots, but still one full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. And by nothing, I mean a profound absence. The tale is one that will be retold more often as medical technology advances to keep people alive, in this case, Marlise Munoz, who in November 2013 suffered a pulmonary embolism when she was fourteen weeks into her pregnancy. Her husband and her parents asked John Peter Smith Hospital to discontinue all life-sustaining treatment for her, which action indirectly would cause the death of her (and his) child in utero. They contend that the very doctors treating her reported that she was brain dead and recommended the withdrawal of such treatment. The hospital did not oblige their request, relying solely on a provision of the Texas Health & Safety Code that provides that a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant woman. (emphasis added).
iverbenson5Absent from the courtroom, however, was any mention of God as the Author of all human life, including that of Baby Munoz. The mystery of Gods purpose in permitting this tale to unfold will remain thatan impenetrable mystery. What can be known is that He willed Baby Munoz life into existence and that fact deserves some weight. It is congruent with Americas Judeo-Christian heritage that God be included in her judicial determinations. The United States Supreme Court still opens each session with God save the United States and this honorable court. Edith Jones, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, placed a replicated Harlan Bible (named after Justice John Marshall Harlans personal Bible which he donated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1906) prominently in her chambers as a reminder to all who visit that we remember our judgments are ultimately subject to a Divine standard. The Divine standard is love: love of God and of neighbor, and love sometimes requires sacrifice of ones own rights, interests, and desires for the benefit of another, like Baby Munoz. Love sometimes requires one to wait for the Lord with courage. Psalms 27:14. There was no mention of this Divine standard in the 96th District Court in determining the fate of Baby Munoz.
Also absent was any advocate for Mrs. Munoz or for Baby Munoz. Larry Thompson, the Assistant District Attorney who represented JPS Hospital, informed this writer that the appointment of an attorney ad litem or guardian ad litem had been considered; however, no such appointment was sought. This decision was a glaring error. An attorney appointed to zealously represent each party would have forced Mr. Munoz attorneys to prove his case. For example, does Mrs. Munozs medical condition satisfy the legal definition for death? The same Health & Safety Code states that a person is dead when, according to ordinary standards of medical practice, there is irreversible cessation of the persons spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions. It further states that if artificial means of support preclude a determination that a persons spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions have ceased, the person is dead when, in the announced opinion of a physician, according to ordinary standards of medical practice, there is irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function. Death occurs when the relevant functions cease. Death must be pronounced before a doctor can discontinue artificial or mechanical means of supporting a persons respiratory and circulatory systems. Because artificial means of support had been initiated when Mrs. Munoz first arrived at JPS Hospital, the fact whether all of her spontaneous brain function had stopped became a critical issue.
Brain death was introduced in 1968 by an ad hoc committee of the Harvard Medical School in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was introduced mainly to facilitate organ harvesting and to reallocate resources away from patients whose prognosis was unfavorable. Unfortunately, after three decades of clinical implementation, this standard has proven to be conceptually flawed, according to medical ethicist Dan Wikler of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a member of a 1981 presidential commission that recommended a uniform law defining death. There is no reliable way to determine irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function unless and until the entire brain has been destroyed; but, in order for this destruction to occur, the respiratory and circulatory functions must stop. Cases have occurred in which the patient met the test for brain death because an EEG could not detect electrical activity on his brains surface, but the patient clearly had functioning of the mid-brain and brain stem, and maybe even of the cortex. The brain may not be the exclusive central organizing organ of the human person. Doctors have reported over thirty cases of protracted survival of brain dead patients, ranging from one week to fourteen years.
No expert witness was called to testify on behalf of Mrs. Munoz. Instead, the assistant district attorney, representing the state and not Mrs. Munoz or Baby Munoz, simply stipulated that the mother was brain dead. That stipulation practically decided the case.
An advocate for Baby Munoz not only would have challenged the allegation of brain death but also would have raised the equally crucial question of whether his client was viable. Viability refers to the gestational age at which a child in utero has a 50% chance to survive outside the womb. Most doctors believe viability is reached around 24 weeks of gestation. However, there is no hard and fast rule. Amillia Taylor, for example, was born in 2006 at 21 weeks, 6 days of gestation (but under 20 weeks from fertilization). At nine inches and 10 ounces, she faced digestive and respiratory issues and a brain hemorrhage. Today, she runs, she plays, she does things shes not supposed to do. But, again, the assistant district attorney essentially threw the case by stipulating that Baby Munoz was not viable.
Another gaping absence was any discussion of medical ethics. As soon as a woman becomes pregnant, there are two patients. The first rule of medical ethics is: Do no harm. Removing the ventilator (which supports but does not substitute for the respiratory system) from Mrs. Munoz obviously caused harm to Baby Munoz. He died. The second rule is: Take all reasonable action to give the patient a fair chance to live. All that Baby Munoz needed was 3 to 4 more weeks. This would not have been the first time a brain-dead pregnant woman delivered a baby. In 2012, in Michigan, Christine Bolden delivered twins before her respirator was removed. Dr. Cosmas Vandeven, a specialist in high-risk pregnancies at University of Michigan hospital, said that an important ethical issue in such cases is whether a brain-dead woman would suffer by being kept on a respirator and undergoing a C-section. Almost every parent would give their life for their child, Dr. Vandeven opined. But you need to get truly independent opinions: Are we sure were not causing harm to the mom? Ms. Boldens brother said, I know she wants the babies to be with us. This has brought our family together.
In contrast, the Texas courtroom stage was filled with provocative commentary on Mrs. Munoz allegedly decaying corpse and the smell of death. Mr. Munoz attorneys pursued a backhanded ad hominem attack against JPS Hospital employees by accusing them of engaging in a scientific experiment with Mrs. Munoz body, thus questioning their motives. The defense failed to offer any alternative argument to its insistence that the Texas Health & Safety Code applies to a pregnant woman, whom it already had stipulated was dead, when the relevant subchapter at issue concerns only qualified patient[s] who have been diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition, Implicitly, it does not apply to a dead patient.
This writer does not question the motive of either the hospital employees or Mr. Munoz. This writer does question whether Mrs. Munoz or Baby Munoz received a fair hearing and whether all available legal and ethical arguments were presented.
In Shakespeares play, Macbeth found no meaning or purpose in life after his wifes death. Let us pray that Mr. Munoz will find meaning and purpose after the death of his wife and child. Let us pray further that our culture, including our judiciary, will strive to meet the Divine standard by which we all will be judged.
Were both babies healthy, or was one known to have a major birth defect?
We don’t know all the medical details of these cases. Maybe the Munoz baby could not have survived to be born.
However, all the reportage regarding Mr. Munoz was stone cold. There was never the slightest indication that he wanted the baby to live. It was all, “Die, die, die.”
Maybe he was the victim of bad reporting, but he was the one who chose the Death Eater lawyer who said that a “dead fetus” was “how it should be.”
The Munoz wife and baby were without oxygen for a considerable amount of time. The wife was brain dead as the result of no oxygen. Therefore the baby in this case was also without oxygen for the same amount of time that the mother did not have oxygen.
In the other case the wife had brain-damage but she was still breathing, and her heart was still pumping. Therefore the baby had oxygen and did not suffer any brain damage.
I never watch the perky one Katie Couric’s show, but today she had Mr. Munoz on her show so I decided to watch to hear what he had to say..he was asked about the ultra sound of the baby and how the baby had defects and had fluid in the brain, Katie asked him, what if the ultra sound had come back normal, a perfectly healthy baby, would you have done the same thing, and he said he probably would have. Now that to me is sick, the baby would be born perfectly normal and he would STILL want the baby to die?
So are you saying that the husband said that the ultra sound came back saying the baby *was defective and it *did have fluid on the brain?
this entire scenario remains bizzarre starting with both being licensed paramedics,both allegedly NOT wanting advanced life support BUT no paperwork backing this up and as paramedics they have to know the basic laws for any DNR action.
Then the wife allegedly was found on the floor and he intiates CPR..then there is no further diagnosis beyond an embolism,then we wind up at brain dead.
Yeah,we should blog for the enquirer as the ideas in here range from a paternity “problem” to the direct opposite as him giving her some injectable to get her out of the way or simply a physical argument where she was injured,he walks away but then goes back to find.....and starts CPR.
HIS side of the family backed him up as well—something smells here the same as for Terri Schiavo,another wife found on the floor.
When you’re pro-life, you don’t kill a baby because of brain damage.
As I said above, maybe there never was a chance for the Munoz baby to live ... but the dad was death, death, death, for his wife and the baby.
Yes that is what he said, he said the baby showed “Abnormalities” and had “Fluid in the brain” but he was also asked, what if the baby had been completely normal, no defects, would you still want the plug pulled and he said yes, that the mother specifically said she did not want to be kept alive on machines
irrelevant....both were living human beings....and who gets to draw the line between minor and major????
Matthew 24: 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Birth defect should have no bearing on case or your opinion. Babies with defects entitled to same love and support and life as perfect babies.
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I'm guessing that wasn't the case here.
I have a friend who was going to be born with major defects. He has MS from one of the top schools in the country and a lucrative career. I’ve never noticed any defect.
Munoz wanted the baby dead from the get-go. The description of an ultrasound showing severe damage was far too “pat” to be credible.
Something was going on here—we don’t know what—but there is a reason this guy wanted the baby dead.
Have we heard anything about the young girl who was brain dead after throat surgery? Her parents had her moved but I haven’t heard anymore.
If the child is the responsibility and the property of the parent, as Roman, Jewish and Christian Law held, it would seem the answer would be the parent.
Gee, an “honest” liberal in TX; most are dishonest to the core.
So, true, fueled by Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and the American people
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