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Judge: Remove life support for pregnant woman

Published January 24, 2014 3:42 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Fort Worth, Texas • A judge on Friday ordered a Texas hospital to remove life support for a pregnant, brain-dead woman.

Judge R. H. Wallace Jr. issued the ruling in the case of Marlise Munoz. John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth has been keeping Munoz on life support against her family's wishes. The judge gave the hospital until 4 p.m. Monday to remove life support.

Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when her husband found her unconscious Nov. 26, possibly due to a blood clot.

Erick Munoz says he and his wife are paramedics who were clear that they didn't want life support in this type of situation. His attorney argued that keeping the woman alive would set a dangerous precedent for future cases of pregnant, brain-dead women.

But John Peter Smith Hospital had argued that it had to protect the life of the unborn child.

Hospital officials have said they were bound by a state law prohibiting withdrawal of treatment from a pregnant patient. Several experts interviewed by The Associated Press have said the hospital is misapplying the law.

The case has raised questions about end-of-life care and whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus. Not much is known about fetal survival when mothers suffer brain death during pregnancy.