When Marlise Munoz suffered an apparent pulmonary embolism last month, depriving her of oxygen for nearly an hour and ceasing her brain activity, her family, figuring that doctors would disconnect her life support, gathered around her hospital bed to say goodbye.
But because Munoz, 33, was 14 weeks pregnant at the time, doctors were prevented from ending her life due to a Texas law that overrides family wishes in case there’s a chance the fetus may be carried to term – and that possibility can't be determined for at least another six weeks.
In the meantime, Munoz’s family is caught in the balance, and insists that the former paramedic had previously told them that she never wanted to be on life support in case she suffered a traumatic injury.
Her husband, Erick, has said he wants his wife off life support.
“No family should have to go through this,” Munoz’s mother, Lynne Machado, told NBC News on Tuesday. “It’s been pure hell.”
Although the unborn baby still has a heartbeat, Erick Munoz said that testing options are limited, making it difficult to tell whether or not the fetus is actually viable, according to WFAA-TV.
"They don't know how long the baby was without nutrients and oxygen," Munoz said.
Munoz, who already has a son with Marlise, said he knows his wish won't be popular, and doesn't expect a lot of people to side with him.
Attorneys told WFAA-TV that Munoz will need to go to court for an injunction or a restraining order in order for his wishes to be carried out.
The case brings to mind the long legal battle surrounding the case of Terri Schiavo, who was left in a permanent vegetative state after collapsing in her home in 1990.
While Schiavo's husband declared she would not want to be kept alive, her parents fought to keep her feeding tube intact. In 2005, after a long legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Schiavo's feeding tube was removed and she died shortly thereafter.