Family of Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman Now Fighting to Change State Law

GILLIAN MOHNEY

http://abcnews.go.com

ht_pregnancy_exlusion_03_lb_150304_16x9_992A family that had to go to court to get a brain-dead woman taken off life support is now fighting to change Texas law so other families won’t have to go through the same ordeal.

The family of Marlise Munoz is working with Texas lawmakers to craft a new bill that could make it easier for families to have end-of-life decisions in regards to a pregnant woman, according to a new documentary in production currently titled, “The Pregnancy Exclusion.”

“I just don’t think the government can make this decision for anybody,” Munoz’s husband, Eric Munoz, says in a clip from the upcoming film.

Eric Munoz did not immediately respond to a request for further comment made through the film producers.

The case of Marlise Munoz made international headlines after the 33-year-old pregnant paramedic was declared brain dead. While Munoz’s family wanted her taken off life support, a Fort Worth, Texas, hospital refused after citing a little-known state law that prohibited removing “life-sustaining” treatment for a pregnant patient.

The family eventually won the case in January 2014 after a judge ruled the law did not apply to Munoz because she was already deceased.

“The Pregnancy Exclusion,” follows the family as they figure out how to navigate the state legislature system in the hopes they can change the law itself.

Eric Munoz talks in the film about what it was like to see his wife put on life support after being declared brain dead.

“You have a body there and you try to respect it and talk to it, but then at the same time you’re like she’s passed away, she’s dead,” he says in a clip that has been made available in advance. “So you talk in your head like she can listen to you in Heaven.”

Munoz said at some point he could tell his wife was deteriorating under life support.

“Her hands went from being pliable to being very rigid, very stiff,” he said. “You’re seeing a body slowly deteriorate.”

Munoz, along with his parents-in-law, faced international scrutiny as both pro- and anti-abortion advocates took on the case.

“You hear people say, ‘You’re a monster to you’re going to hell,’” Eric Munoz says in a film clip. “’Why isn’t he thinking about the baby?’ … [People] literally accused me of murder.”

The fight over how the law perceives the rights of incapacitated pregnant women is likely to continue for some time. Last month, a Republican state lawmaker introduced a bill that would make it illegal to stop life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant woman even if there is “irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function.”

Rebecca Haimowitz, director of “The Pregnancy Exclusion,” said the family is preparing to testify against that bill once it is brought up in a hearing.

“The family has gone on this journey from their own personal tragedy and to activism,” said Haimowitz. “They certainly didn’t ask for it.”

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