DALLAS (AP) – Before a pregnant, brain-dead Texas woman was taken off life support over the weekend at the end of a long legal battle, her husband said he decided to name what would have been the couple’s second child.
Erick Munoz said Monday he gave the 23-week-old fetus the name Nicole, the middle name of his late wife, Marlise Munoz. He would not say why he chose to name the fetus.
Munoz said doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth indicated to him that the fetus would likely have been a girl, though his attorneys previously said the fetus suffered from lower body deformation that made it impossible to determine its sex.
“They think it was a female,” Munoz said in a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Munoz told WFAA-TV in an interview aired Monday evening that he has seen many negative comments about his decision, but he feels he made the right choice.
“I’m just glad they are not in my shoes. I hope every day that no one ever has to go through what I went through,” he said.
Munoz said his wife will be cremated and there are no plans for memorial or funeral services because the family is concerned that protesters would show up.
“She made me a better man, and I thank her for it. I thank her very much,” he said.
Both the hospital and his attorneys agreed the fetus could not have been born alive that early in the pregnancy, and the fetus was not delivered when the hospital complied Sunday with a judge’s order to pull any life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz.
Doctors said she was brain-dead in November after Erick Munoz found her unconscious in their Haltom City home, possibly due to a blood clot, but the hospital had kept on machines to keep her organs functioning for the sake of the fetus, which it said was per Texas law.
The case inspired debates about abortion and end-of-life decisions, as well as whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus.
Munoz’s attorneys, Heather King and Jessica Hall Janicek, had issued a statement last week saying that according to medical records, “the fetus is distinctly abnormal.” The attorneys said the fetus also had fluid building up inside the skull and possibly had a heart problem.
Erick Munoz told the AP earlier that he believed in God but felt his training as a paramedic suggested the fetus would have been seriously harmed by his wife’s condition.
Erick Munoz sued the hospital because it would not remove life support. He said his wife, also a paramedic, had told him she would not want to be kept alive under such circumstances. In refusing his request, the hospital cited Texas law that says life-sustaining treatment cannot be withdrawn from a pregnant patient, regardless of her end-of-life wishes.
Legal experts told the AP that the hospital was misreading the Texas Advance Directives Act and that the law isn’t an absolute command to keep a pregnant woman on life support.
Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. sided Friday with Erick Munoz, saying in his order: “Mrs. Munoz is dead.”
The case has been noted by Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the two leading candidates running to replace him, but none has called for any new laws or action yet. In recent years, the Legislature has enacted several new anti-abortion restrictions, including setting the legal guideline for when a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.
During a debate among the four big-name Republicans running for lieutenant governor Monday night, all of them said the judge erred in ordering that Marlise Munoz be removed from life support and vowed if elected to tighten state law so that a similar outcome couldn’t happen again.
Follow Nomaan Merchant on Twitter at
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.