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Texas hospital to end care for brain-dead woman

Sunday, January 26, 2014
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— A Texas hospital said Sunday that it will remove life support from a pregnant, brain-dead woman following a judge's order that it was misapplying state law to disregard her family's wishes.

J.R. Labbe, a spokeswoman for John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, issued a statement Sunday that says the hospital "will follow the court order" issued Friday in the case of Marlise Munoz.

The statement did not say when the hospital would pull life support, and Labbe declined to comment in a follow-up message. Attorneys for Erick Munoz, Marlise's husband, did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment.

"From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it," the statement said. "On Friday, a state district judge ordered the removal of life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz. The hospital will follow the court order."

Judge R.H. Wallace gave the Fort Worth hospital until 5 p.m. Monday to comply with his ruling to remove Munoz from life support, which Erick Munoz says is what his wife would have wanted.

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

Both the hospital and family agreed before Wallace's ruling that Marlise Munoz meets the criteria to be considered brain-dead — which means she is dead both medically and under Texas law — and that her fetus could not be born alive this early in pregnancy.

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 garnered attention on both sides of the abortion debate, with anti-abortion groups arguing Munoz's fetus deserves a chance to be born.

 
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