Marlise Munoz: Brain-dead pregnant Texas woman removed from life-support

33-year-old collapsed from a suspected brain clot in November

Fort Worth, Texas

The family of brain-dead, pregnant woman said tonight that she had been removed from life-support in a Fort Worth hospital, just two days after a judge ruled that the hospital was at odds with the law in insisting that it had to keep her alive to protect the life of the baby.

The unhooking of Marlise Munoz, who was believed to be about 20 weeks pregnant, shortly before noon here brings to a close a wrenching episode that saw her bereaved husband pitted against the hospital where she was taken after collapsing in the couple’s kitchen from a suspected brain clot in November. It also added fuel to America’s often polarised abortion debate.

The John Peter Smith Hospital, which was at the centre of the weeks-long controversy, confirmed that Ms Munoz had been taken off life support, barely 24 hours before a deadline that had been set at the end of last week by a Fort Worth judge. It added that her body had already been released to her husband, Erick Munoz, for burial.

On Friday, State Judge R. H. Wallace ruled at the end of an emotionally charged hearing that because he considered Ms Munoz essentially “deceased” at the time, a state law that forbids hospitals from withholding care from a pregnant woman did not apply in this case and the hospital had to comply with the family’s wishes.

Mr Munoz, who attended Friday’s hearing in a state of clear emotional distress, had argued from the day that his wife had been put on a ventilator that she had always told him that should tragedy strike she would not want to be kept alive on life support if diagnosed as brain-dead..

Erick Munoz stands with a photograph of himself, left, with wife Marlise and their son Mateo Erick Munoz stands with a photograph of himself, left, with wife Marlise and their son Mateo (AP)
In a statement here, the hospital said it had kept Munoz on life support to follow “the demands of a state statute” but had thereafter been bound to “follow the court order”. It added: “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”.  It added that from the start the hospital’s role “was not to make nor contest law but to follow it”.

Ms Munoz, who was 33, collapsed without warning on 26 November and rushed directly to the hospital.  Her and her husband’s plight made national headlines in America both because of its poignancy and because it fed directly into the fevered national debate about abortion. Anti-abortion activists cast it as a case where protecting the life of an unborn fetus should have taken first priority over all other considerations. However, lawyers for the Munoz family had insisted that tests had shown the unborn child to be “distinctly abnormal”.

Read more:
Texas Democrat Wendy Davis runs into trouble over 'fanciful' life story in race for state governor  
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea