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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?