Texas hospital removes pregnant woman from life support

Jan. 26, 2014 at 6:28 PM
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FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A Fort Worth, Texas, hospital removed Marlise Munoz -- a pregnant woman who is brain dead -- from life support Sunday, a family attorney said.

John Peter Smith Hospital had said in a statement earlier in the day it would comply with an order issued Friday by District Judge R.H. Wallace, to declare Munoz dead and remove her from life support by 5 p.m. Monday.

Munoz' body was released to her family, NBC News reported.

"Our client, Erick Munoz, has authorized us to give notice that today, at approximately 11:30 a.m. ... Marlise Munoz's body was disconnected from 'life support' and released to Mr. Munoz," the family's attorney said in a statement, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. "The Munoz and Machado families will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Munoz's body to rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered."

Hospital officials had said Texas law forbids removing her from life support because that would cause "the death of an unborn child."

"JPS Health Network has followed what we believed were the demands of a state statute," the hospital said Sunday. "From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it. On Friday, a state district judge ordered the removal of life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz. The hospital will follow the court order."

Wallace issued the order after the hospital acknowledged a fetus gestating in Munoz's body is not viable. Her husband, Erick Munoz, and the hospital had jointly filed a document conceding the fetus was not viable "at the time of this hearing," the Dallas Morning News reported.

Marlise Munoz, 33, had been kept alive since suffering a pulmonary embolism just before Thanksgiving, when she was 14 weeks pregnant.

Erick Munoz is suing the hospital, saying it did not implement the state law appropriately.

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