Fate of brain-dead woman spurs protests

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by TODD UNGER / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on January 13, 2014 at 8:59 AM

FORT WORTH — Officials at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth say it is the law to keep a woman on life support until doctors can determine if her fetus is viable.

But the family of the pregnant woman, who they say is brain dead, say she "never would have wanted that."

Protesters appeared outside JPS on Sunday to show their support.

Marlise Muñoz has now been hospitalized for six weeks after her husband found her unconscious. They suspect a blocked artery to her lung may have been the cause.

"Her family doesn't want life support for her, and we don't feel it is right for the state or the hospital to force this on her," said Autumn Brackeen.

But just a stone's throw away from supporters on Sunday were counter-protesters who maintain that the hospital and the state are doing the right thing by interpreting Texas law to protect an unborn child — even if the viability of the fetus cannot yet be determined.

"We just don't want the hospital — or, if it goes to the courts — for anyone to forget their a child involved," one woman who gave her name as "Carol" said.

The hospital said in a statement on Sunday that it is following Texas law.

Attorneys for the Muñoz  family are expected to launch a legal fight early this week.

“Our client wants to pursue his wife’s wishes, that is our end goal. We’re in the process of determining a way to accomplish Mr. Munoz’ goal,” the firm Koons Fuller told WFAA. 

If legal action is followed, the Tarrant County District Attorney would represent JPS because of a county and hospital arrangement dating back to 1959.  

The DA's office declined comment.  

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