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Why Did the Husband of One Brain Dead Wife Let His Baby Live and the Other Didnít?
Life News ^ | Life Legal Defense Foundation

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 God’s purpose in permitting this tale to unfold will remain that—an 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 America’s 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 Harlan’s 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 one’s 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. Munoz’s 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 person’s spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions.” It further states that “if artificial means of support preclude a determination that a person’s 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 person’s 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 brain’s 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 she’s 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 we’re not causing harm to the mom?” Ms. Bolden’s 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 Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth found no meaning or purpose in life after his wife’s 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.


TOPICS: Society
KEYWORDS: prolife

1 posted on 02/13/2014 5:42:15 PM PST by Morgana
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To: Morgana

Were both babies healthy, or was one known to have a major birth defect?


2 posted on 02/13/2014 5:44:49 PM PST by GladesGuru (Islam Delenda Est - because of what Islam is and because of what Muslims do.)
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To: Morgana

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.”


3 posted on 02/13/2014 5:45:28 PM PST by Tax-chick (Oh, what fun.)
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To: Tax-chick

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.


4 posted on 02/13/2014 5:59:47 PM PST by notpoliticallycorewrecked (The more you know, the more you realize that you don't know.)
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To: Tax-chick

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?


5 posted on 02/13/2014 6:00:54 PM PST by Sarah Barracuda
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To: Sarah Barracuda

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?


6 posted on 02/13/2014 6:06:56 PM PST by Ditter
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To: Tax-chick

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.


7 posted on 02/13/2014 6:07:16 PM PST by catroina54
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To: notpoliticallycorewrecked

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.


8 posted on 02/13/2014 6:07:58 PM PST by Tax-chick (Oh, what fun.)
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To: Ditter

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


9 posted on 02/13/2014 6:09:45 PM PST by Sarah Barracuda
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To: GladesGuru
Were both babies healthy, or was one known to have a major birth defect?

irrelevant....both were living human beings....and who gets to draw the line between minor and major????

10 posted on 02/13/2014 6:16:25 PM PST by terycarl (common sense prevails over all else)
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To: Morgana

Matthew 24: 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.


11 posted on 02/13/2014 6:21:21 PM PST by RginTN
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To: GladesGuru

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.


12 posted on 02/13/2014 6:22:20 PM PST by amihow
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13 posted on 02/13/2014 6:24:58 PM PST by RedMDer (Happy with this, America? Make your voices heard. 2014 is just around the corner. ~ Sarah Palin)
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To: Morgana
I've not seen any reports of exactly what happened when the
medical machines that were artificially animating the body of Mrs Munoz were turned off.
Frankly, I don't think it a matter for broad public debate, unless Mrs. Munoz survived the withdrawal of extreme artificial medical life support mechanisms, unassisted except for palliative food and water, for 24 hours.

I'm guessing that wasn't the case here.

14 posted on 02/13/2014 6:29:07 PM PST by sarasmom (Extortion 17. A large number of Navy SEALs died on that mission. Ask why.)
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To: Sarah Barracuda; Ditter

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.


15 posted on 02/13/2014 6:31:25 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: Morgana

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.


16 posted on 02/13/2014 6:39:19 PM PST by exDemMom (Current visual of the hole the US continues to dig itself into: http://www.usdebtclock.org/)
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To: Sarah Barracuda

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.


17 posted on 02/13/2014 6:39:54 PM PST by Ditter
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To: terycarl

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.


18 posted on 02/13/2014 6:40:17 PM PST by GladesGuru (Islam Delenda Est - because of what Islam is and because of what Muslims do.)
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To: Sarah Barracuda

Gee, an “honest” liberal in TX; most are dishonest to the core.


19 posted on 02/13/2014 6:40:38 PM PST by Theodore R. (Alas: TX Republicans to endorse Cornball and George P! Stay tuned March 4)
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To: RginTN
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold

So, true, fueled by Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and the American people

20 posted on 02/13/2014 6:42:28 PM PST by Theodore R. (Alas: TX Republicans to endorse Cornball and George P! Stay tuned March 4)
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To: GladesGuru

Remove the component of religion. It’s a human life.


21 posted on 02/13/2014 6:44:02 PM PST by Gene Eric (Don't be a statist!)
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To: Tax-chick

“Maybe the Munoz baby could not have survived to be born.”

It would have killed that guy to wait a few weeks to wait and see? Seriously? It’s not like pregnancy is forever. Yes ladies I know it feels that way.


22 posted on 02/13/2014 6:49:30 PM PST by Morgana (Always a bit of truth in dark humor.)
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To: amihow

Are you not presuming to tell the parents how to make a choice which was given by God to them?

Indeed, a case could be made you are attempting to second guess/influence the very will of God, assuming you believe God to have made a decision as to the health of the mother.

Is second guessing part of Christianity?

If so, may I ask for Biblical references, either Testrament would do.

Thanks.


23 posted on 02/13/2014 6:53:10 PM PST by GladesGuru (Islam Delenda Est - because of what Islam is and because of what Muslims do.)
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To: Sarah Barracuda

He wanted the baby dead no matter what- Would his wife had said “Kill my baby?” . Not sure. I wonder if the “tests” actually were done too, or was that all lying BS? Guess we’ll never know. Sad.


24 posted on 02/13/2014 6:54:14 PM PST by Pajamajan (Pray for our nation. Thank the Lord for everything you have. Don't wait. Do it today.)
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To: Morgana

To get to other side of the road?


25 posted on 02/13/2014 6:59:30 PM PST by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously-you won't live through it anyway-Enjoy Yourself ala Louis Prima)
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To: Morgana
It’s not like pregnancy is forever. Yes ladies I know it feels that way.

If you're unconscious anyway, I assume it doesn't feel like anything. There is only the objective question, can the baby live, or not.

We don't know, because you can't believe anyone. Not the medical personnel, not the father, not the other family. We just can't know whether the baby could have lived.

26 posted on 02/13/2014 7:14:12 PM PST by Tax-chick (Oh, what fun.)
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To: Pajamajan

We will never know the truth..but I was surprised to hear him say that even if the baby had been shown to be completely normal, he would still have pulled the plug because the wife said repeatedly that she did not want to be kept alive on machines. The woman’s mother was also on the show, she referred to the baby as a “fetus” its a BABY!!!


27 posted on 02/13/2014 7:20:10 PM PST by Sarah Barracuda
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To: GladesGuru
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.

while the child is certainly the responsibility of the parent, he/she is NEVER the property of the parent....can't be bought or sold, can't be mortgaged, can't be neglected, can't and can be a lot of things, but property...not a chance....From the moment of conception, that was a complete human being with his/her own set of rights and the right to life is primary....supercedes all others.

28 posted on 02/13/2014 7:35:14 PM PST by terycarl (common sense prevails over all else)
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To: GladesGuru
Are you not presuming to tell the parents how to make a choice which was given by God to them?

God gave the parents the choice as to whether or not to become pregnant....once they had done so, their choice ended....the CHILD which they had concieved was now an individual with its'own rights....the rights or the parents became EXTREMELY limited and the right to kill the child was not included

29 posted on 02/13/2014 7:43:11 PM PST by terycarl (common sense prevails over all else)
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To: notpoliticallycorewrecked

Thank you. I was going to say Mrs. Munoz was dead and the baby died with her but the people on these threads lack any understanding of medical realities.


30 posted on 02/13/2014 8:05:51 PM PST by Nifster
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To: Tax-chick

You seem to lack any understanding of medical realities. not only was Mrs. Munoz dead but the baby died with her. Keeping machines going does not mean their is any life there at all


31 posted on 02/13/2014 8:07:23 PM PST by Nifster
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To: Morgana

“Yes ladies I know it feels that way.”

Not always, not even much of the time.

This is one of the things that infuriates me most about the Abortion movement, they had to reimagine pregnancy as a disease.

Now, sometime pregnancy can be very difficult, but not always.

Obviously if you are brain dead everything is already s*cking, but if you are healthy pregnancy is just a natural part of life.

This is what boggles my mind about the Left, they are all for nature, nature, nature, but not when it comes to babies!


32 posted on 02/14/2014 3:47:47 AM PST by jocon307
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To: GladesGuru

Parents do not have life death decisions over children. That baby could have lived without any harm to any one.

We do not need Scripture to know that. Just basic human kindness.


33 posted on 02/14/2014 9:57:36 AM PST by amihow
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