Marlise Munoz, who was about 22 weeks pregnant, had been on life
support in the hospital in Fort Worth since November 26 after
suffering what her husband believes was a pulmonary embolism.
Erick Munoz had sought to remove his wife from life support, with
the support of her parents, but the hospital had refused, citing a
Texas law that says life-sustaining treatment cannot be withdrawn or
withheld from a pregnant woman despite a "do not resuscitate" order
or a request from the family.
A judge on Friday agreed with Erick Munoz in finding that Marlise
Munoz was already legally dead and ordering the John Peter Smith
Hospital to remove her ventilator, setting a Monday deadline.
Heather King, a lawyer for the Munoz family, said in a statement on
Sunday that life support had been removed and Marlise Munoz's body
released to her husband, who had found her unconscious on the
kitchen floor when she was 14 weeks pregnant and rushed her to the
"May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the
strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous
journey," the lawyer's statement said, adding the family would now
proceed "with the somber task of laying Marlise Munoz's body to
rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered."
In seeking to have Munoz disconnected from life support, lawyers for
the family had argued that she was clinically dead, could no longer
be considered a pregnant woman and that the fetus she was carrying
was severely damaged.
The couple are both paramedics and had previously agreed that they
do not wish to be kept on life support, Erick Munoz said. 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
[to top of second column]
JPS Health Network, which runs the hospital, said it could not
The hospital had said earlier that it would remove "life-sustaining"
treatment, but did not say when it would act.
Lawyers for the hospital had argued they were complying with a law
that was intended to protect unborn children.
"The past eight weeks have been difficult for the Munoz family, the
caregivers and the entire Tarrant County community, which found
itself involved in a sad situation," the hospital's statement said.
Tom Mayo, a law professor at Southern Methodist University who
helped write the Texas law, said that he believed the hospital had
misapplied it in the Munoz case.
Mayo said that changes in the law will likely be discussed before
the Texas state legislature meets next year but added: "I'm not
persuaded that the statute really needs to be fixed."
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.
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen and Dan Whitcomb;
Edith Honan, Bernard Orr)
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