Marlisa Munoz: Texas judge orders hospital to remove life support of pregnant brain-dead woman

33-year-old was 14 weeks pregnant when she fell unconscious in November

A judge on Friday ordered a Texas hospital to remove life support for a pregnant, brain-dead woman whose family had argued that she would not want to be kept in that condition.

The judge issued the ruling in the case of Marlisa Munoz, who was being kept alive in a hospital in Fort Worth against her family's wishes. The judge gave the hospital until 5 pm on Monday local time to remove life support. 

The case has raised questions about end-of-life care and whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus. It also has caught the attention of both sides of the abortion debate, with anti-abortion groups arguing Munoz's fetus deserves a chance to be born. 

Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when her husband found her unconscious on November 26, possibly due to a blood clot. 

Erick Munoz says he and his wife are paramedics who were clear about not wanting life support in this type of situation. His attorney argued that keeping the woman alive would set a dangerous precedent for similar cases in the future. 

John Peter Smith Hospital maintained it had to protect the life of the unborn child. Hospital officials said they were bound by a state law prohibiting withdrawal of treatment from a pregnantpatient. Several experts interviewed by The Associated Press have said the hospital was misapplying the law. 

The hospital said in a statement Friday that it "appreciates the potential impact of the consequences of the order on all parties involved" and was deciding whether to appeal. 

Earlier this week, Erick Munoz's attorneys said the fetus, now believed to be at about 22 weeks' gestation, is "distinctly abnormal." They attorneys said they based that statement on medical records they received from the hospital. 

The local district attorney's office, which is representing the hospital in the lawsuit, said the hospital was expected to issue a statement later Friday in response to the ruling. 

Not much is known about fetal survival when mothers suffer brain death during pregnancy. German doctors who searched for such cases found 30 instances of survival over nearly 30 years, according to an article published in the journal BMC Medicine in 2010. 

But those mothers were further along in pregnancy — 22 weeks on average — when brain death occurred.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links