The judge ruled that Marlise Munoz, now about 22 weeks pregnant,
is dead. She has been on life support in a hospital since November
26 after suffering what her husband, Erick, believes was a pulmonary
District Judge R.H. Wallace gave John Peter Smith Hospital until
Monday at 5 p.m. U.S. Central Time (1800 ET) to remove the
"The defendants are ordered to pronounce Mrs. Munoz dead and remove
the ventilator and all other 'life-sustaining' treatment from the
body of Marlise Munoz," the judgment read.
Under Texas law, a person may not withdraw or withhold
life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient, even if there is
a "do not resuscitate" request from the patient or if the family of
the patient seeks to end life support.
Lawyers for Munoz had argued that she was clinically dead, could no
longer be considered a pregnant women and that the fetus she was
carrying was severely damaged.
Erick Munoz broke down in tears as the judge read the ruling. His
lawyer Heather King and Marlise Munoz's mother and father were also
crying and hugged Erick for several minutes after court has
They did not speak to media, who packed the courtroom.
Lawyers for the hospital had argued they were complying with a law
that was intended to protect unborn children.
"JPS Health Network appreciates the potential impact of the
consequences of the order on all parties involved and will be
consulting with the Tarrant County District Attorney's office," the
hospital said in a statement.
The couple are both paramedics and have made it known to each other
that they do not wish to be kept on life support, Erick said.
[to top of second column]
Attorneys for Munoz have said the parents of Marlise agreed with her
husband's request to turn off the ventilator.
The lawyers also provided medical records they said show that the
fetus suffered from oxygen deprivation and appears to have deformed
Erick found his wife unconscious on the kitchen floor in late
November when she was 14 weeks pregnant and rushed her to a
In July, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law tough new
restrictions on abortion, including a ban after 20 weeks of
pregnancy, marking one of the biggest victories in a decade for
opponents of the procedure in the United States.
Outside the courthouse, a handful of supporters carried signs that
read "Let Marlise Munoz Rest in Peace".
"There's nothing happy about today. It's a sad situation all the way
around," attorney King said.
"We are relieved that Erick Munoz can move forward with the process
of burying his wife," King said.
(Reporting by Jana J. Pruet; writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by
Cynthia Johnston, David Gregorio and Bernard Orr)
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