By Jana J. Pruet
DALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas paramedic will ask a Fort Worth court on Friday to remove his pregnant wife from life support, saying the fetus she is forced to carry under state law has become severely damaged in her debilitated body.
Marlise Munoz, now about 22 weeks pregnant, has been on life support in a hospital in Fort Worth since November 26 after suffering what her husband, Erick, believes was a pulmonary embolism.
Attorneys for Erick Munoz will ask a Tarrant County court to grant permission to turn off life support, arguing Marlise had become nothing more than brain-dead body.
"Marlise Munoz's death is a horrible and tragic circumstance, but by no means should (the hospital) be entitled to continue cutting into her deceased body in front of her husband and family under the guise of 'life sustaining' treatment," according to court papers they filed.
Under Texas state law, a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient, even if there is a "do not resuscitate" request from the patient or the family of the patient seeks to end life support.
Marlise has been on a ventilator since being admitted to John Peter Smith Hospital despite the family's wishes to remove it. Hospital officials have said they will follow state law.
The couple are both paramedics and have made it known to each other that they do not wish to be kept on life support, Erick said.
Attorneys for Munoz have said the parents of Marlise agreed with Erick's request to turn off the ventilator.
The lawyers have also said they have provided medical records to show that the fetus suffered from oxygen deprivation and appears to have deformed lower extremities.
Officials at John Peter Smith hospital in Fort Worth last week said: "The courts are the appropriate venue to provide clarity, direction and resolution in this matter."
The hospital is part of a publicly funded county health system in Fort Worth.
In July, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law tough new restrictions on abortion, including a ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy, marking one of the biggest victories in a decade for opponents of the procedure in the United States.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by David Gregorio)