A pregnant brain-dead woman who has been at the center of much controversy has been removed from life support.
Muñoz, 33, who is believed to be about 22 weeks pregnant, had been kept
on life support against the wishes of her husband and family.
Friday, State District Judge R.H. Wallace ruled that she "is deceased"
and therefore not subject to a state law that prohibits withdrawal of
treatment from a pregnant person. The judge said the Fort Worth
facility, John Peter Smith Hospital, had until 5 p.m. Monday to remove
Munoz from life support.
On Sunday morning, she was taken off her ventilator.
Muñoz and Machado families will now proceed with the somber task of
laying Marlise Muñoz's body to rest, and grieving over the great loss
that has been suffered," Heather King and Jessica Janicek, attorneys for
Marlise's husband Erick Muñoz, said in a statement. "May Marlise Muñoz
finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete
what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey."
The hospital issued a statement Sunday saying it had kept Munoz on
life support to follow "the demands of a state statute" and has decided
that "the hospital will follow the court order."
"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," JPS Health Network said in an e-mailed statement Sunday.
"From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law
but to follow it."
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.
It also has gripped attention on both sides of the abortion debate as
opponents of abortion argued that Munoz's fetus deserved a chance to be
Husband Erick found his wife unconscious on Nov. 26,
possibly because of a blood clot. He has said she told him that if she
ever was in her present condition, she did not want to be kept alive.
the hospital and the family agree that Marlise Munoz meets the criteria
to be considered brain-dead -- which means she is dead medically and
under Texas law -- and that the fetus could not be born alive at the
current stage of pregnancy. But the hospital had said that it had a
legal duty to protect the fetus.
Munoz's attorneys have said medical records show the fetus is "distinctly abnormal."