A brain-dead pregnant Texas woman’s body was removed from life-support, as the hospital keeping her on machines against her family’s wishes acceded to a judge’s ruling.
Marlise Munoz’s body soon will be buried by her husband and parents, after John Peter Smith hospital in Fort Worth announced it would not fight Judge RH Wallace’s order on Friday to pronounce her dead and return her body to her family.
The 23-week-old foetus she was carrying will not be born.
The hospital’s decision brings an end to a case that became a touchstone for debate about the beginning and end of life, and whether a pregnant woman considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life-support for the sake of a foetus.
Munoz’s husband, Erick Munoz, sued the hospital because it would not remove life-support as he said his wife would have wanted in such a situation.
Erick and Marlise Munoz worked as paramedics and were familiar with end-of-life issues, and he said his wife had told him she would not want to be kept alive under such circumstances.
But the hospital refused his request, citing Texas law that says life-sustaining treatment cannot be withdrawn from a pregnant patient, regardless of her end-of-life wishes.
Judge Wallace sided with Mr Munoz, saying in his order: “Mrs Munoz is dead.”
He had given the hospital until 5pm local time yesterday to comply with his order.
“From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it,” according to hospital spokeswoman JR Labbe.
“On Friday, a state district judge ordered the removal of life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz. The hospital will follow the court order.”
Shortly afterwards, Mr Munoz’s lawyers announced she had been disconnected from life-support.
“May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey,” they said in a statement.
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