On November 26, 2013; Marlise Munoz collapsed at her home in Haltom City, Texas and was rushed to John Peter Smith Hospital (JPS) in Fort Worth. She was only kept alive via a ventilator and other life support equipment. When it was apparent that she would not regain consciousness, her husband Erick requested that life support be terminated. However, the hospital refused, saying that since Marlise was pregnant, section 166 of the Texas Health and Safety Code required life support to be maintained until it could be determined that the baby could survive.
Erick Munoz sued JPS on January 14, claiming that doctors had told him Marlise was brain dead. Therefore, Erick contended, under section 671 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, Marlise was legally dead. He contended that JPS had badly misinterpreted the section of the Texas Health and Safety Code that supposedly required life support to continue for Marlise, since it did not apply to a dead person.
Prior to a hearing before District Judge R. H. Wallace, Jr., lawyers for Erick Munoz and JPS filed a document stating, among other things, that Marlise had been brain dead on November 28. Partly due to this concession by JPS, Wallace ruled in favor of Erick Munoz and ordered that all life support for Marlise end.
Regardless of how and when the legal battle in this case ends, the Munoz family's most immediate concern is the cost of keeping Marlise on life support for almost two months. Given that JPS has formally admitted that Marlise was brain dead on November 28, there is no defensible reason to make the Munoz family pay for maintaining life support. In the name of basic decency, the Munoz family should not have to bear any financial responsibility for what JPS has tacitly admitted is futile treatment.
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