- (Photo: Screengrab/WFAA-TV)
Pro-life groups, including activist organization Operation Rescue, are speaking out against the "senseless murder" of a brain-dead pregnant woman and her baby following a court order by a Texas judge on Friday.
"We are grieved that the JPS hospital has removed life support from Marlise Munoz and her baby. As the term 'life support' implies, Marlise's body was alive and supporting a thriving pregnancy at the time support was withdrawn," wrote Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
"It is despicable that dehumanizing and deceptive language was used to refer to Marlise as a 'corpse' and her baby's condition as 'incompatible with life' in order to elicit public support for putting them to death."
The remarks center around the decision of District Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. who on Friday ordered John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, to remove Marlise Munoz from life support. The woman was found by her husband unconscious on the kitchen floor on Nov. 26 from a suspected brain clot, when she was 14 weeks pregnant.
According to reports, at 18 weeks gestation medical tests showed that the unborn baby had a normal heartbeat, and was entering its 23rd week before Munoz was taken from life support on Sunday.
The husband, Erick Munoz, has argued that his wife had discussed and agreed not to be kept alive through life support, and filed a lawsuit against the hospital, urging it to stop treatment on his wife's "dead body."
"When I bend down to kiss her forehead, her usual scent is gone, replaced instead with what I can only describe as the smell of death," the husband said in an affidavit. "As a paramedic, I am very familiar with this smell, and I now recognize it when I kiss my wife. In addition, Marlise's hands no longer naturally grip mine for an embrace. Her limbs have become so stiff and rigid due to her deteriorating condition that now, when I move her hands, her bones crack, and her legs are nothing more than dead weight."
The hospital had kept her on life support in accordance with state law, which states that "a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient."
Pro-life groups have argued that the Texas court's decision failed to recognize the unborn child as a separate patient in need of protection.
"We believe the intent of the legislature, as expressed in numerous places in Texas law, is to protect the lives of unborn children to the greatest extent possible," the Texas Alliance for Life said in a statement.
While the hospital could not speak on the health of the baby, as it was not given permission by the family to do so, attorneys representing the Munoz family told local media that at 22 weeks gestation, the baby was so deformed that the gender could not be determined. Notably, at 18 weeks gestation, the baby's heartbeat was normal.
Operation Rescue nevertheless stressed that the human being "does not lose their God-given human beauty or dignity just because they are disabled or incapacitated. This case just goes to show how far we have slipped into the abyss of a Culture of Death and how intolerant we have become of those who are seen as 'inconvenient.'"
The pro-life group added that it believes the court order contradicts Texas law meant to protect unborn children.
"We strongly believe that the order that led to the termination of life support is in complete contradiction to Texas law that was enacted to protect pre-born babies just like the Munoz child. The courts have failed this baby, the attorneys who should have defended Texas law have failed this baby, and the hospital has failed this baby. May this tragedy serve as a wake-up call to our society, lest others wrongly fall victim to this dehumanizing utilitarian view of life and death," Newman added.