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Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman on Life Support Stirs Controversy

Marlise Munoz was 33 years old and 14 weeks pregnant when her husband found her lying unconscious in their Texas home, and doctors pronounced her brain dead. Her husband and family members claimed that they knew she would not want to be kept on life support. Her husband claimed that although his wife did not leave behind any sort of health care directive, that he knew her wishes and had discussed the issue with her many times before.

However, hospital officials refused to honor her wishes because they argued that Texas law required them to provide life-sustaining support to pregnant patients. After eight weeks, the hospital officials agreed to withdraw her from life support because the fetus was no longer viable.

Under Florida law, hospital officials may not withdraw life-sustaining support to pregnant patients unless the patient expressly delegated such authority to the health care surrogate, in writing, or the surrogate obtained court approval.

A Living Will and Designation of Health Care Surrogate is a very important aspect of estate planning because no one can be certain when a life threatening event may occur. These documents allow for families to abide the their loved ones wishes and prevent legal controversies from arising. In addition, these documents can help to provide a sense of closure to family members once their loved ones pass away. At Ourednik Law Offices, P.A. we include a Living Will and Designation of Health Care Surrogate along with our estate planning package to help our clients plan for the future and to insure that their wishes will be upheld. Everyone should have the right to die with dignity.