Hospital Takes Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman Off Life Support

Marlise Muñoz has been taken off life support following a court order. Muñoz has been declared brain-dead and her unborn fetus was ruled not viable.

Hospital Takes Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman Off Life Support
Fort Worth Star-Telegram / Ron T. Ennis

After eight weeks of a heated legal and ethical debate, a brain-dead pregnant woman in Texas has been taken off life support. Lawyers for Marlise Muñoz's family announced Sunday she has been disconnected from the machines keeping her alive.

"This was a sad situation all around. We are relieved that Erick Muñoz can now move forward with the process of burying his wife." (Via CNN)

Muñoz was 14 weeks pregnant when she suddenly collapsed on Nov. 26. Doctors pronounced her brain-dead at Fort Worth's John Peter Smith hospital, and her family insisted Muñoz would not have wanted to be kept alive artificially. (Via ABC)

However, doctors refused to take Muñoz off of life support, citing a Texas law which prevents life-sustaining treatment from being withheld from pregnant patients. Her husband Erick sued the hospital.

And on Friday, a Texas district judge ruled in favor of Muñoz, ordering the hospital to remove her from life support. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. ruled the Texas law did not apply to Muñoz since she was functionally deceased and her fetus did not have a good prognosis.

John Peter Smith hospital announced they would not contest the court's decision in a statement Sunday. "From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it. ... The hospital will follow the court order." (Via The Dallas Morning News)

It's not clear what happened immediately after removing the ventilator, but doctors say Muñoz will likely pass away due to a pulmonary embolism. She would have been in her 23rd week of pregnancy.