Houston–The viability of a 17-week-old fetus likely will determine whether the child’s comatose mother remains on life support, as well as the future of Texas law concerning common-law marriage.

The life of the unborn baby gave Scott Law the legal hook to stop his girlfriend’s family from agreeing to withdraw life support for Tammi Martin. Mr. Law invoked the little-used Texas Natural Death Act, which forbids removing life support from a pregnant woman, to give the court time to sort out whether a common-law husband has the right to decide the woman’s future.

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