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
Arts and Entertainment
Masterchef cooks Tony Rodd (left), Emma Spitzer (second left) and
Simon Wood (right) posing with judges Gregg Wallace (centre) and John Torode (second right), as the three will be seen cooking their hearts out in the hopes of winning the show.
TVReview: Tired Geography teacher John Torode and shaved Scotch egg Gregg Wallace crown the champion
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week
voices
Life and Style
life
News
The Grand Palais in Paris will be transformed into a 4,000-seat cinema, with 44 double beds at the front
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road