The Fort Worth Star Telegram is reporting that the family of Marlise Munoz, the pregnant brain-dead woman who is being kept ventilated against the wishes of her family, will sue the John Peter Smith hospital to get her removed from the machinery. The hospital has kept Ms. Munoz on the machinery for weeks, citing the Texas Advance Directives Act, which states that no one can withdraw or withhold "life sustaining treatment" from a pregnant patient. The crucial legal question is whether the statutory restriction can properly be applied to treatment which is not "life-sustaining," because the patient in question is dead. (Family members have said that they've been told Ms. Munoz is brain-dead, but the hospital has made no official statement confirming this.) A hospital spokesman said the hospital was "encouraged" by the lawsuit "because the courts are the appropriate venue to provide clarity, direction and resolution in this matter." That sounds to me as if the hospital's position may be wholly liability-driven, and they're just looking for the safety of a court ruling to justify stopping the mechanical intervention. On the other hand, the hospital's outside council is reportedly one Neal Adams, who led a drive to end abortions at the hospital in 1988 and serves on the advisory board of the Northeast Tarrant Right-to-Life Educational Association, so perhaps more than liability is driving the hospital's position.
Earlier post on this case and on the Jahi McMath case in California here.