Hospital in Marlise Munoz Case Represented by Anti-Choice Lawyer, Family to Sue (UPDATED)

Read more of our coverage on Marlise Munoz’s case here.

Update, January 10, 5:14 p.m. ET: RH Reality Check has received the following statement from John Peter Smith Hospital:

“Neal Adams will not be involved [in the Munoz case]. The legal representative for the Tarrant County Hospital District, like every other arm of county government, is the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.”

The family of Marlise Munoz, the pregnant Texan who is being kept on life support against her and her family’s wishes, has retained legal counsel to soon file suit on her behalf, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The paper also reports that one of the attorneys representing the hospital where Munoz is being kept on life support is an advisory board member of a local anti-choice organization.

Munoz’s family says doctors at John Peter Smith (JPS) Hospital have declared Munoz brain-dead, and say that she has not breathed on her own, nor has her heart beat on its own, since she collapsed on November 26, when she was 14 weeks pregnant.

A hospital representative has contended that JPS doctors had no choice but to keep Munoz on life support for months in order to allow her pregnancy to come to viability, as they believe Texas law requires. Texas is one of 12 states that automatically invalidates any advance directives when a patient is pregnant, regardless of the viability of the pregnancy.

Some medical ethicists contacted by news outlets disagree with the hospital’s contention, however, emphasizing that brain death is legal death, and that in fact doctors have an obligation not to continue to attempt to treat a dead person.

Nevertheless, JPS released a statement yesterday saying that it is “encouraged” by the Munoz family’s decision to retain legal counsel, “because the courts are the appropriate venue to provide clarity, direction and resolution in this matter.”

Earlier this month, Munoz’s mother, Lynne Machado, told RH Reality Check that strangers have wrongly tried to turn her daughter’s situation into a “pro-life” versus pro-choice political issue, rather than allow it to remain a private decision that should be made by a grieving family. Some anti-choice commenters online have accused Erick Munoz, Marlise’s husband, of being too anxious to take his wife off life support, while others assert that, despite her express wishes as told to her family, they believe she would prefer to be kept on life support to advance her pregnancy.

JPS’ legal counsel, Neal Adams, has taken a clear stance against abortion rights. According to the Star-Telegram, Adams “led the drive to end abortions at JPS in 1988,” and is also an advisory board member at the Northeast Tarrant County Right To Life Educational Association. According to the group’s website, its focus is to “educate the public on the value of human life from the moment of conception in the hope that the life of the unborn child will be protected from conception to natural birth.”

Munoz family attorney Heather King declined to give the paper details of their planned litigation, saying only that “it will be filed soon.”

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

Follow Andrea Grimes on twitter: @andreagrimes

  • RonPaul2012

    I was reading alternet the other day, and some idiot commenters were saying that:

    1) once the child is born, it should be taken into protective custody and shielded from the husband because he is a muderous psycho who wants to kill his child for funsies

    2) what is wrong with everyone who is supporting this woman’s DNR directive – why do you all want to murder an innocent child you sickos????

    I swear. The forced birthers are really rabid about this issue. Anyone who even so much as suggests that the fetus isn’t viable and that the woman’s wishes should be respected is instantly branded as a bloodthirsty baby killer who wants nothing more in life than to ‘see this child die’


    • Jennifer Starr

      I replied to a few on the alternet site–the pro-liars on there are just absolutely beyond the pale. One woman even wants to adopt the baby? What the hell?

      • RonPaul2012

        Reminds me of the dumbasses on Operation Rescue who think they can nurse anencephalic babies to normalcy…

        • expect_resistance

          That’s messed up. They’re delusional thinking they can “rescue” an anencephalic baby. Don’t most anencephalic babies die shortly after birth?

          • RonPaul2012

            Yes. But they are idiots. They think a brainless baby can experience and enjoy life, no matter how short.

          • lady_black

            I’m pretty sure that “enjoyment” is a higher brain function.

        • Jennifer Starr

          And now they’re trying to push some myth about ‘brain death isn’t really dead’ crap. I tell you what, if something happens to me one day, these creeps are not getting a hold of my body to play their personal version of Monty Python’s ‘dead parrot’ routine.

          • RonPaul2012

            I was reading The Guardian the other is a good article with some helpful links regarding brain death:


            Some good information in this article, as well as some interesting commentary regarding brain death:


          • Jennifer Starr

            Someone actually wrote on that Salon article that it was a ‘beautiful use of a corpse’. Just all kinds of wrong with that statement.

          • RonPaul2012

            Yet they wouldn’t say that if a corpse was being used to sustain the life of a toddler…

            People are absolutely *psychotic* when it comes to embryos and fetuses, aren’t they?

          • lady_black

            Throwing up in my mouth @ that.

          • Ivy Mike

            Salon’s gone nuts lately. Every article dealing with women’s health, contraception, or abortion is invaded almost instantly by the MRA whiners.

          • ldwendy

            What’s MRA? Sounds like an abbreviation for something . . .

          • RonPaul2012

            Men’s Rights activist. See for more info.

          • ldwendy


          • Ineedacoffee

            Speechless at that comment, how do people even reason that being ok or a normal thing to think

          • RonPaul2012

            That’s nothing. I came across one on Yahoo comments who said that female corpses could be used to grow human clones…

          • Ineedacoffee

            Ouch, my head just hit the desk
            Wow, just wow
            I have this weird urge to go check out yahoo comments but heatwave conditions here and im already steaming as it is

          • lady_black

            ROFL. Tell them to ask their doctor (or ANY doctor) about how brain death isn’t “really” dead.

          • RonPaul2012

            I was reading about the story over on The Rawstory and there were people who were arguing that the woman isn’t dead because her heart is artificially beating, and that she will not be a cadaver until she is unplugged from the machinery.

            I guess they have never heard of a ‘beating heart cadaver’…

          • colleen2

            I first noticed the religious right’s understanding of the human brain as a secondary and inessential organ during the Terry Schiavo train wreck. In that case the ‘pro-life’ folks were sending death threats to the husband.

            We really aren’t all that far away from the times when people like that are able to bring charges of heresy against those who disagreed with their beliefs.

      • lady_black

        The “baby” isn’t up for adoption. Is there something wrong with her? In the extremely unlikely even the pregnancy does go to term and produce a baby that isn’t also brain-dead, the baby will have a father.

      • Ella Warnock

        Ha, like if I ever did give a kid up for adoption I’d allow it to go to a pro-liar fundy family. Please.

    • expect_resistance

      The forced birthers are rabid about it and they’re blinded from seeing reality. They have to be rabid to give a fetus more validity than a woman. Glad the family is going to sue.

      I’ve seen some of these comments and wish I had the time to reply to every one of them. Even if I did it wouldn’t make a difference because the rabid anti-choicers have only one narrow-minded goal of oppressing women.

  • ldwendy

    Hi – I read somewhere that the state of Texas is also going to require the Munoz to pay the hospital for keeping Marlise alive.

    Can someone verify if this is true and provide a source? Thanks!

    • RonPaul2012

      I see you’ve been hanging out at LAN…I love Calvin Freakburgers new post…

      About how RHRC = hypocrites because:

      1) they say that a fetus isn’t a person in order to justify killing it when they know that this woman isn’t a person, yet they are all worried about her right to her body??? hypocrites!!!

      2) feminists are a bunch of whiny brats who throw temper tantrums about bodily autonomy and equal rights cuz like it’s not patriarchy that’s at fault it’s biology and why can’t feminist biatches just accept that biology = destiny?

      • ldwendy

        Hi RonPaul2012,

        Yes – I am hanging out at LAN – but am not sure if any of my commentary is making sense to anyone over there! :(

        There’s this poster there named Basset_Hound who thinks I “whine” too much. But calmly describing the complications of pregnancy, or examples of injustices or lack of access for people with disabilities is just telling it like it is. “Just the facts, ma’am”. It’s not whining in my book.

        • RonPaul2012

          Basset is a moron.

        • fiona64

          Be prepared to be banned for bringing up, and sticking to, verifiable facts and non-emotional arguments. BTDT. ;-)

        • RonPaul2012

          Andrew J Corrales is an asshat as well…

          And I just came across a thread over there with a creature named “Mary Lee” who is going on and on and on about how abortion is pure misogyny because women are denied their role as broodmares…

          • RonPaul2012

            A new user named Janice just replied to me. Her reply is under moderation currently, but thankfully for the rest of us, she has offered to *speak* for Marlise Munoz:

            Janice wrote:

            As a mother of three I am proud that Texas is stepping in and giving this mother a voice, which she no longer has and an unborn child a voice who never had one. I would be furious if my husband tried to take me off of life support before my child had been born.
            After reading this article I had to have a serious discussion with my husband. I had initially told him that I didn’t want life support, but this changes everything!!!! EXCEPT in the case of pregnancy. My body no longer belongs to me, but that of my child.

            Well, isn’t Marlise lucky that YOU have offered to speak for her. How presumptious.

            It is beyond me that any family would fight so hard to kill a child who is almost full term after a daughter or wife’s death.

            Yeah Janice, because it’s all about killing for this family. It’s not about honouring his dead wife’s wishes. He just has the bloodlust right? he just wants to kill baybeez!!!

            And no, a 14 week fetus is not ‘almost full term’.

            You people clearly don’t have a family of your own or something else to whine about.

            Many of the people here have children, and some went through considerable pain and suffering to bring those children into the world. One woman almost died, and another was vomiting for 10 months straight – and she could have died as well.

        • Defamate


          Marcus Fenix wrote:

          “”*edit* I mean, they could come here and try to make a valid point using things like facts and reasoning, yet…Wendy is too busy crying about how she’s not understood or listened to and that we bag on her for whining.”

          Calvin banned a bunch of us 6+ months ago :)

          So next time they throw that one out..and you could also ask them why they are too wimpy to come HERE or to any of the patheos blogs..

      • Ella Warnock

        Calvin. That is one twisted son of a bitch.

        • RonPaul2012

          People were asking about PJ4 and apparently she had to take a long break/delete her account because the poor thing was being stalked!!!

          • Ella Warnock

            Huh, drama queen much? If anyone on disqus was being stalked, it would be you or me!

          • RonPaul2012

            Speaking of a love for drama..

            Also from Lan:

            “”My family – we smiled at each other. We breathed one collective, THANK YOU, JESUS breath. Our baby was not going to die. Our baby was going to have Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome. Of course, I thought. Of course.””

            “””Most stories we hear about a baby’s diagnosis of Down syndrome don’t include the words “relief” and “lucky”. Most stories are filled with sadness, denial, and finally either acceptance or abortion. But not Glennon’s story.

            When Glennon went into labor with her baby boy, named Chase, she was eagerly anticipating her first meeting with her son. She cried, she nursed him, she laughed. Then, the on-call pediatrician checked Chase over and told Glennon that her baby was perfectly healthy. Confused, Glennon asked if Chase had Down syndrome. The doctor said no. Glennon, not getting the baby she expected, felt a sense of loss.””


            They wanted their child to be born with DS so that they could *exploit* zir in order to feel like heroic, wonderful Christians!

            How revolting! This wasn’t about the kid at all. It’s about their egos and impressing god.


          • Jennifer Starr

            As someone who has a cousin with DS, this is just beyond insulting to me. These ‘Christians’ just wanted this kid to have DS so they could exploit him as a prop–probably parade him around in front of a clinic somewhere and talk about how ‘blessed’ he is. Sick.

          • RonPaul2012

            Exploitation is acceptable if it’s done in the name of JAYSUS.

            For all we know, this story isn’t even real. Every couple of weeks they have a “i was pro-choice and I saw baybeez die every day but then I changed my mind and became pro-life praise the lord’ etc

            Remember the one from clinicquotes? They just make shit up.

            I also find it interesting that our pro-choice boards are, on the average, *busier* than the pro-life boards. Because the fact is, the percentage of people who feel that a zygote = a person, that rape is a gift, and that disabled children are a blessing is relatively small. They are crackpots. They just happen to be loudmouthed crackpots who are funded by the Koch brothers.

          • RonPaul2012

            Freddy is just trolling. Check his history. He’s not even serious, it’s just one big joke, I believe. Which is why I am just replying nonsenically

          • Jennifer Starr

            Yeah, I agree :)

          • RonPaul2012

            I messaged RHRC on FB and asked that they ban/delete his comments because when everyone wakes up, the entire thread would have gone to hell.

            Better to avoid all that.

          • Jennifer Starr

            Good idea–his trolling was out of control.

          • RonPaul2012

            Generally I don’t mind trolls – and he was somewhat amusing – but, the whole ‘you want to commit black genocide’ was just asinine. And when the rest of the RHRC users woke up today, they would have taken him seriously, and it would have been a clusterfuck.

          • Jennifer Starr

            I had actually reported quite a few of his posts for being off-topic myself

          • RonPaul2012
          • Jennifer Starr

            TerriLynnMerritts at Alternet is beyond belief. She keeps shrieking in ALL CAPS about how Marlise was catholic and pro-life and ‘would not have wanted this’. Don’t you just love how total strangers think they know more about this woman than her loved ones do? Delusional.

          • RonPaul2012

            Idiots over there. I can’t help but notice that they started a wailing about Terri schiavo.

          • Jennifer Starr

            Yeah, I don’t buy that, any more than I buy the private schools, six kids, mansions and the rich musician husband. This girl has a very rich fantasy life and not much grip on reality.

          • Jennifer Starr

            Incidentally, where’s the link with the claim of stalking?

          • RonPaul2012


            They talk about cj as well.

          • Jennifer Starr

            Yeah, I think it’s more likely that mommy and/or daddy have taken away internet privileges. If Jasmine is actually an adult woman, I’d be very surprised.

          • RonPaul2012

            Wanna see something really stupid? Secular pro-life is comparing FGM to abortion…yes, abortion rights are as patriarchal and misogynist as FGM…

            http://blog dot secularprolife dot org/2014/01/fgm-safe-legal-and-rare.html#disqus_thread

            It is astonishing how closely this debate parallels the abortion debate. Proponents of legalized abortion claim that the results of illegal abortions will be worse than legal and “safe” abortions, and so the moral question is shoved aside. Pro-life advocates feel that the heinous nature of abortion outweighs the potential back-alley tragedies that might occur following illegalization. In both cases, society-wide problems drive the crime. In both cases, the victims are often young. In both cases, the practices come from a male-driven patriarchal society. Abortion and FGM are both used to oppress girls and women, and both are human rights violations.

            And in another post, they bang the misogyny drum, claiming that abortion rights in developing countries where female fetuses are aborted = pure misogyny. Yeah, because, you know, outlawing abortion in rape cultures such as India can only IMPROVE the lives of women..

            http://blog dot secularprolife dot org/2014/01/abortion-as-symptom-of-misogyny-in.html


            Will not link directly to the site, so just put a ‘.’ where the ‘dot’ is.

          • Jennifer Starr

            Good lord, what planet do these people come from? And can they please go back there? And Rachel Enders is just plain wrong–anti-choice is equally idiotic, whether it comes from a religious place or not.

        • RonPaul2012

          His actual words:

          1) Bitches need to accept that anatomy is destiny:

          “”Sigh* for the millionth time, the sexes aren’t unequal; the situations are. Women are perfectly “free to determine what will happen to them if they become sick and unable to communicate their health-care wishes” in all cases except those where making that determination would kill someone else.

          For that reason, pregnancy is fundamentally incomparable to a non-pregnant person’s wishes to have his or her own feeding tube removed. (And in reality, the principle behind pregnancy exclusion laws very well could apply to men – for instance, whether one conjoined twin exercising his rights would infringe on the rights of his brother.)

          I’m sorry guys can’t get pregnant, but your quarrel is with biology, not some patriarchal boogeyman. The fact that liberals have devolved feminism into a perpetual temper tantrum about nature’s unequal distribution of reproductive processes isn’t a good enough reason to ignore the unborn life at stake.””

          2) Pro-aborts are actually pro-life:

          “”Whether you consider Marlise Munoz dead probably depends on whether you believe her soul passed on with brain death or she’s still in there until the rest dies, but the pro-aborts are clearly going by the former (or a secular equivalent), so let’s run with it. She’s dead; she has no more earthly consciousness, sentience, pain sensitivity, desires, welfare, or future. What she “would not have wanted” can only possibly matter if she has or had some intrinsic worth completely unrelated to those qualities – a sanctity of her life as a human being.

          If that’s the case, then an unborn baby, from his or her earliest moments of existence, must also warrant intrinsic respect regardless of those qualities. A zygote can’t think, feel, or want, but he or she is a living human being with an entire future ahead. If anything, shouldn’t a full life waiting to be had outweigh a life that is fully over?””

          • fiona64

            He is such a poltroon.

    • RonPaul2012

      Local firefighters have set up a benefit fund to help the family pay their medical bills:

      This is likely costing 4k-10k USD per day, and lord knows how much it will cost once the fetus is removed and requires intensive care…

      The thing is, the woman is dead. An insurance company isn’t going to cover expenses for the care of a *dead* person. So, it’s likely that the bills will go to the father. But, I can’t find anything else on the subject.

    • fiona64

      Quote: The Texas law on advance directives and end of life care is chapter 166
      of its health and safety code. The provision for pregnant patients is
      section 166.049: “A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining
      treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.” Nothing in
      chapter 166 provides for the state of Texas to pick up the bill
      when it requires the family of a pregnant patient to keep her alive
      until the fetus can be delivered. It costs about $4000 to run life
      support machines for one person each day plus a ton of other hospital


      Quote: Local firefighters have set up a benefit fund to help the family pay medical bills.

      So, yes. The family is saddled with $4K/day in medical bills so that their loved one can be treated like an incubator.

  • RonPaul2012

    Marlise and her family should be grateful that you are speaking for them. How selfless of you.