Texas hospital ends life support for brain-dead pregnant woman -lawyers

Posted Jan. 26, 2014, at 2:33 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 26, 2014, at 3:02 p.m.

— A Texas hospital removed a brain-dead pregnant woman from life support on Sunday, abiding by a court order her husband had sought to honor her wishes, the woman’s lawyers said.

To protect a fetus, Texas law forbids hospitals from withdrawing life support from a pregnant patient, even one like Marlise Munoz, who had signed a “do not resuscitate” request. But Munoz’s husband had sought the court order, arguing that the fetus was withering in her lifeless body.

JPS Health Network, which runs the hospital, said it could not confirm that it had withdrawn life support, citing privacy policy. Earlier, the hospital had said in a statement that it would remove “life-sustaining” treatment from Munoz, but gave no details on when it would act.

On Friday, District Judge R.H. Wallace ruled that Munoz was legally dead and gave John Peter Smith Hospital until Monday at 5 p.m. Central Time to remove the ventilator.

A lawyer for the Munoz family said the hospital disconnected her body from life-support and released it to her husband, Erick Munoz, at about 11.30 a.m. (CT) on Sunday.

Munoz, now about 22 weeks pregnant, had been on life support in the hospital in Fort Worth since Nov. 26 after suffering what her husband believes was a pulmonary embolism.

“JPS Health Network has followed what we believed were the demands of a state statute. From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it,” the statement said. “The hospital will follow the court order.”

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