Judge: Remove life support for pregnant woman
FORT WORTH, Texas — A judge Friday ordered a Texas hospital to remove life support for a pregnant, brain-dead woman whose family argued she would not want to be kept in that condition.
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 5 p.m. Central Standar Time on Monday to remove life support. The hospital did not immediately say Friday whether it would appeal.
Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when her husband, Erick Munoz, found her unconscious Nov. 26, possibly because of a blood clot. The hospital and the family agree she meets the criteria to be considered brain-dead — which means she is dead medically and under Texas law — and the fetus could not be born alive at this point.
But the hospital had not pronounced her dead and continues to treat her despite the objections of Erick Munoz and her parents, who sat together in court Friday.
“Mrs. Munoz is dead,” Wallace said in issuing his ruling, adding that meant the hospital was misapplying a state law that prohibits the removal of life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient.
Larry Thompson, a state’s attorney representing the public hospital, told the judge the hospital had a legal responsibility to protect the unborn fetus.
“There is a life involved, and the life is the unborn child,” Thompson said.
But Jessica Hall Janicek and Heather King, Erick Munoz’s attorneys, accused the hospital of conducting a “science experiment” and warned of the dangerous precedent her case could set, raising the specter of special ICUs for brain-dead women carrying babies.
“There is an infant, and a dead person serving as a dysfunctional incubator,” King said.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.