FORT WORTH — The husband of a pregnant Texas woman who was recently removed from life support upon court order has announced that he has named his unborn baby girl Nicole.
Erick Munoz told reporters this week that he gave his 23-week-old daughter his wife’s middle name after he requested that the hospital conduct one final sonogram as he wished to learn the sex of the baby.
“They think it was a female,” he told the Associated Press.
However, attorneys Heather King and Jessica Hall Janicek, who represent Munoz, had released a statement just last week asserting that the sex of the child was not able to be determined due to deformities.
“According to the medical records we have been provided, the fetus is distinctly abnormal,” the women stated. “Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined.”
King and Janicek also asserted that the baby had fluid on her brain and might have had heart issues, although her heartbeat was deemed to be normal at 18 weeks.
Local television station WFAA reports that Munoz “felt the child would not have a good quality of life if it had gone without oxygen for so many hours,” and therefore, did not seek to continue the pregnancy. Munoz said that he had discussions with his wife about her “quality of life” beliefs in the past.
Hospital officials have not publicly commented on the condition of the child, telling reporters that the family did not give the hospital permission to speak about the baby’s health.
“It’s hard,” Munoz said. “Part of you wants to yell and scream, but you just have to stay strong for the rest of the family, too, because you know your pain hurts them.”
However, some pro-life groups state that baby Nicole still should have had a chance at life regardless of whether or not she would have survived a c-section or whether she would have special—or even severe—health needs. According to reports, the hospital had initially planned to conduct a test on the baby next week and to remove the child between 24-26 weeks gestation when she was deemed viable.
“Why was baby Munoz denied even the possibility of survival? It appears that the baby girl’s disabilities determined her value in this case, and sadly, it was wrongly decided that her life was not worth saving,” said Jennifer Mason of Personhood USA in a news release. “According to ABC News, family attorneys may have blamed a lack of oxygen for the baby’s apparent medical issues incorrectly, according to medical experts. Regardless, disabled children are created in God’s image, and still have a right to live.”
“The baby may or may not have survived a c-section, but if she didn’t make it, her passing would have been a tragedy instead of a deliberate killing,” she added. “It is absolutely wrong to kill an innocent person, no matter their age, location, size, sex, race, or ability. The murder of Marlise Munoz’ baby was wrong, just as abortion is always wrong.”
Troy Newman of Operation Rescue agreed.
“[A child] does not lose their God-given human beauty or dignity just because they are disabled or incapacitated,” he told reporters. “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.'”
Munoz said that he knows that there are those who disagree with his decision to take his wife—and thus also their child—off life support.
“I’m just glad they are not in my shoes,” he stated. “I hope every day that no one ever has to go through what I went through.”
As previously reported, Munoz’ wife, Marlise, had been on a ventilator since late November when her husband found her unconscious in the middle of the night. According to Munoz, the woman got up after 2 a.m. to check on their infant son, and when she did not return, he got up to check on both of them, finding his wife collapsed on the floor.
Doctors believe that Munoz suffered a blood clot in her lung, which caused her to collapse. She had no brain activity since being admitted to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth two months ago. However, her baby, who was fourteen weeks gestation at the time of the incident, reportedly had a measurable heartbeat, which resulted in a disagreement between the hospital and Munoz’ family.
The family filed a lawsuit against John Peter Smith Hospital earlier this month after officials contended that they could not legally remove Munoz from the ventilator due to the Texas Advance Directive Act, which states that “a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment” from a pregnant woman.
Following a hearing on Friday, Judge R.H. Wallace sided with Munoz’ family, stating that she is deceased and that the law being cited by the hospital does not apply to the dead. He ordered that Munoz be removed from life support by 5 p.m. Monday.
The hospital, in deciding not to appeal, disconnected Munoz’ breathing tube on Sunday and released her body to her husband.
Munoz said that his pregnant wife will be cremated.