There is no law in this universe that forces a hospital to keep a dead female on a ventilator for nine months, on the off chance that the corpse will give birth. John Peter Smith Hospital was performing unauthorized medical experiments on the dead body of Marlise Munoz in order to gauge how long a dead woman's pregnancy could be sustained (and what of course would be the state of the fetus). I suspect they also felt entitled to do so because the Munoz's were minorities. This situation never would have arisen had the woman who died while pregnant been a relative of George Bush or Ross Perot or some other prominent Anglo family.
According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, the distraught husband, Erick Munoz, who is a paramedic, could even smell the familiar odor of decomposing flesh when he was at his wife's bedside. The fetus was grotesquely deformed and yet hospital officials insisted that they were working in the interests of the unborn child.
Admittedly, the medical staff will call what they were doing something good and noble and humane for the sake of the baby. But there was no baby, only a pregnant dead woman. There have been cases of women who died near the end of their pregnancy and were kept on life support for weeks, to strengthen the baby's chances. But Mrs. Munoz was only 14 weeks pregnant when she collapsed. Admittedly, this hospital would have been written up in all the medical books, its doctors showered with fame, for finding out how long a dead woman could carry a fetus. But that behavior is far too reminiscent of American medical research practices before the bioethics movement took hold.
The United States Public Health Service between 1932 and 1972 recruited 600 impoverished black sharecroppers into a medical experiment to examine the effects of syphilis on men for whom the penicillin cure was withheld. Medical researchers did not tell these individuals that they suffered from syphilis, provided no curative medical treatment and also conducted studies on the effects of congenital syphilis on children born to these men.
The behavior of John Peter Smith Hospital towards the Munoz family has been diabolical. But it has also caused emotional distress to those of us who know the lengths to which so-called medical researchers have gone in the past to "push the envelope."