independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Woman removed from life support

Erick Munoz said his wife was clear about not wanting life support in this type of situation (AP)

A brain-dead, pregnant Texas woman's body was removed from life support, as the hospital keeping her on machines against her family's wishes acceded to a judge's ruling.

Marlise Munoz's body soon will be buried by her husband and parents, after John Peter Smith hospital in Fort Worth announced it would not fight Judge RH Wallace's order on Friday to pronounce her dead and return her body to her family.

The 23-week-old foetus she was carrying will not be born.

The hospital's decision yesterday brings an apparent end to a case that became a touchstone for national debates about the beginning and end of life, and whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a foetus.

Mrs Munoz's husband, Erick Munoz, sued the hospital because it would not remove life support as he said his wife would have wanted in such a situation.

Erick and Marlise Munoz worked as paramedics and were familiar with end-of-life issues, and he said his wife had told him she would not want to be kept alive under such circumstances.

But the hospital refused his request, citing Texas law that says life-sustaining treatment cannot be withdrawn from a pregnant patient, regardless of her end-of-life wishes.

Judge Wallace sided on Friday with Mr Munoz, saying in his order: "Mrs Munoz is dead."

He had given the hospital until 5pm local time today to comply with his order, but the hospital announced yesterday morning that it would forego any appeal.

"From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it," according to hospital spokeswoman JR Labbe.

"On Friday, a state district judge ordered the removal of life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz. The hospital will follow the court order."

Shortly afterwards, Mr Munoz's lawyers announced that she had been disconnected from life support about 11.30am local time.

"May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey," they said in a statement.

Mr Munoz's lawyers told the court on Friday that doctors had performed medical care on her body over his protests.

Mrs Munoz's parents, Ernest and Lynne Machado, agreed with Mr Munoz and sat next to him at the hearing.

AP

Press Association

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