Fort Worth

January 12, 2014

Rallies held for pregnant Haltom City woman

Attorneys for the family of Marllise Munoz plan to file a lawsuit early this week.

Advocates staged rallies Sunday afternoon near a Fort Worth hospital where a pregnant Haltom City woman was being kept on life support against her family’s wishes under an obscure Texas law.

The brief and quiet rally was staged at John Peter Smith Hospital, where Marlise Machado Muñoz was being kept alive after being hospitalized in November.

About 15 people who back the hospital’s position stood on the corner of Main Street and Allen Avenue on Sunday afternoon, holding signs that had messages such as “Prayers for Marlise and Her Baby,” and “Praying for Baby Muñoz and Family.”

“It’s about a life,” said Timm Hobbs of Denton. “We are here to support that baby.”

Hobbs was there with his wife and two young sons.

“We must save this baby. It is a person, guaranteed protection under the Constitution,” said Pastor Stephen Broden of Fair Park Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas, who organized what he called a “prayer vigil.”

“There is an alternative for the family. There are families willing to take the baby and provide a safe place for it to grow in a loving environment. If we err, we should err on the side of life,” he said.

Another group stood across the street from Broden’s followers and rallied in support of the Muñoz family and their wishes.

"Her family doesn't want life support for her, and we don't feel it is right for the state or the hospital to force this on her," Autumn Brackeen told WFAA/Channel 8 on Sunday.

Attorney Heather King said in an email Sunday, “Mr. Muñoz does not desire to engage in a pro-life versus pro-choice argument, but rather is pursuing the directive of Mrs. Muñoz as expressed before her death.”

King and her colleague, Jessica Janicek, who represent the Muñoz family, continued to work Sunday in preparing legal action in the case.

King said a lawsuit will be filed early this week, but she provided no other details. King and Janicek work out of the Southlake office of the KoonsFuller law firm.

Muñoz, 33, has been hospitalized since she was stricken Nov. 26 with what doctors believe was a pulmonary embolism, said her husband, Erick Muñoz. She entered her 20th week of pregnancy Jan. 6, he said. The family has not publicly released her hospital records but says she’s brain-dead.

The county hospital in Fort Worth says its hands are tied by a Texas law that requires pregnant women to be kept on life support until a viable fetus can be delivered, usually after 24 to 26 weeks.

Erick Muñoz said that he and his wife are both paramedics — she with Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, he with the Crowley Fire Department — and that they had discussed removing life support if either fell into a vegetative state. Moreover, she discussed the issue with her father, Ernest Machado, he said.

The couple have a 14-month-old son.

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