"New Day" Wrap Up – 12/24/13 – Tuesday
December 24th, 2013
11:05 AM ET
December 24th, 2013
11:01 AM ET

Husband of Pregnant Woman Wants Her Off Life Support

Erick Munoz wants to see his wife's wish fulfilled this holiday season, but it's one that carries ethical and legal challenges: To be taken off of life support, CNN's Pamela Brown reports.

Marlise Munoz, 33, is in serious condition in the intensive care unit at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, hospital officials said. She is unconscious and on a ventilator, her husband told CNN affiliate WFAA, but she wouldn't have wanted her life sustained by a machine.

"We talked about it. We're both paramedics," he told WFAA. "We've seen things out in the field. We both knew that we both didn't want to be on life support."

Complicating an already difficult situation is that Munoz is also pregnant, about 18 weeks along, WFAA reported. Texas state law prohibits withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient, regardless of her wishes.

Patients can indicate their future wishes about medical treatment, in the event that they are unable to communicate them, through forms called advance directives. But in Texas, under the Health and Safety Code, such a form includes the provision "I understand that under Texas law this Directive has no effect if I have been diagnosed as pregnant."

Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, spoke on "New Day" Tuesday and said the law is too broad.

"What you want is a law that recognizes the difference between a one-day-old embryo and almost a baby due to be delivered. Pregnancy is not a single condition, so I think the law is way too broad. Plus, the dad is worried in this case – was the fetus harmed when his wife went through this terrible medical incident?"

Erick Munoz told WFAA doctors said his wife may have suffered a pulmonary embolism, which happens when blood clots travel to the lungs from elsewhere in the body. They do not know how long the baby went without nutrients and oxygen.

The hospital would not release specific details about Marlise Munoz's condition, but officials said the hospital would follow Texas law regarding care during pregnancy.

"We have a responsibility as a good corporate citizen here in Tarrant County to also provide the highest quality care we can for all of our patients," said J.R. Labbe, vice president of communications and community affairs for JPS Health Network, in a statement.

"But at all times, we will follow the law as it is applicable to health care in the state of Texas. And state law here says you cannot withhold or withdraw life sustaining treatment for a pregnant patient. It's that clear."

The husband and wife, both paramedics in the Tarrant County area, have a 14-month-old son named Mateo.

Erick Munoz and Marlise Munoz's mother did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CNN.

Erick Munoz found his wife unconscious on November 26, around 2 a.m. He performed CPR on her and then called 911, WFAA reported.

Since that day, the pregnant woman has been on life support, her husband said. Tests have shown that the fetus has a normal heart beat, he said. At 24 weeks, doctors may know more about when the fetus can be taken out, Munoz's family told WFAA. Doctors have also discussed the possibility of taking the fetus to full term.

He told WFAA that his wife had said she would not want to be kept alive by machine, and said he has reached "the point where you wish that your wife's body would stop."

Munoz wears his wife's pink and blue bracelets on his wrist, WFAA reported. Her wedding ring is on his pinkie.

When Munoz walks in the door, he said his son Mateo is waiting for his mother to show up.

"You can see it in his eyes," Munoz said.

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December 24th, 2013
10:30 AM ET

Poll: 88% of American Catholics Approve of Pope Francis

As Pope Francis prepares to celebrate his first Christmas at the Vatican, Americans' opinions of the pontiff appear to be as high as the dome on St. Peter's Basilica, according to a new survey.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday found that 88% of American Catholics approve of how Francis is handling his role as head of the 1.2 billion-member church.

Religion Commentator Father Edward Beck says Pope Francis’ soaring popularity is unsurprising.

“This is a man who just sent 2,000 cards to immigrants in a shelter… and he gave them phone cards so they can call home. He gave them stamps so they can write home,” Father Beck says.

The popular pontiff has also made a positive impression among Americans in general: Nearly three in four view Francis favorably.  The new survey suggests that the Pope is arguably the most well-regarded religious figure among the American public today, said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

“He hugs the faceless man and then he speaks about the faceless poor,” Father Beck says. “He’s consistent all the way through."

Nine months into his papacy, the Argentine-born Francis has captured attention with crowd-pleasing acts of compassion, from embracing a severely disfigured man, to washing the feet of juvenile delinquents, to hosting homeless men at his birthday Mass this month.

The Pope has also shown a common touch rare for such a lofty religious leader. He has eschewed the trappings of the papacy in favor of humbler digs, simpler vestments and a cheaper car. He worked as a bar bouncer and a janitor before he was a priest, and is not shy about telling people.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on December 16 through Thursday, with 1,035 adults nationwide, including 191 Catholics, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

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Send us your #Family photos!
December 24th, 2013
10:17 AM ET

Send us your #Family photos!

This week’s Instagram challenge is #Family. Show me the people you love.

Also, please be sure to post with BOTH the #NewDayCNN and #Family hashtags.

After the New Year, we'll pick our favorite and share it on my feed, the New Day feed and on NewDayCNN.com.

Good luck!


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