Thursday 14 December 2017

Hospital ordered to halt life support for brain-dead pregnant woman

Nomaan Merchant Fort Worth, Texas

A JUDGE has ordered a Texas hospital to remove life support for a pregnant, brain-dead woman.

The judge issued the ruling yesterday in the case of Marlise Munoz, who had been kept alive on life support against her family's wishes at the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

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

Erick Munoz had told the court that he and his wife were paramedics who were clear that they didn't want life support in this type of situation. His lawyers argued that keeping the woman alive would set a dangerous precedent.

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

The case 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 caught the attention of groups on both sides of the abortion debate, with anti-abortion groups arguing the fetus deserves a chance to be born. Hospital officials had argued that a Texas law prohibited the withdrawal of treatment from a pregnant patient.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the family said the fetus that Ms Munoz is carrying, now believed to be at about 22 weeks' gestation, is "distinctly abnormal".

Heather King and Jessica Hall Janicek based their statement on medical records.

"Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined," King and Janicek said.

Irish Independent

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