Hospital to turn off pregnant woman's life support
A judge on Friday ordered a US hospital in Texas to remove life support for a pregnant, brain-dead woman whose family had argued that she would not want to be kept in that condition.PT1M16S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-31ezq 620 349 January 25, 2014
A Texas judge on Friday ordered a Fort Worth hospital to remove a brain-dead pregnant woman from life support, after her husband argued the foetus she has been forced to carry under state law is withering in her debilitated body.
The judge ruled that Marlise Munoz, now about 22 weeks pregnant, is dead. She has been on life support in a hospital since November 26 after suffering what her husband, Erick, believes was a pulmonary embolism.
District Judge R.H. Wallace gave John Peter Smith Hospital until 5pm on Monday to remove the ventilator.
Battling against the hospital: Erick Munoz, in front of a family portrait with his wife and son. Photo: AP
"The defendants are ordered to pronounce Mrs Munoz dead and remove the ventilator and all other 'life-sustaining' treatment from the body of Marlise Munoz," the judgment read.
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 foetus.
It also has caught the attention of both sides of the abortion debate, with anti-abortion groups arguing Munoz's foetus deserves a chance to be born.
Under Texas law, a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient, even if there is a "do not resuscitate" request from the patient or if the family of the patient seeks to end life support.
Lawyers for the hospital had argued they were complying with a law that was intended to protect unborn children.
The couple are both paramedics and have made it known to each other that they do not wish to be kept on life support, Mr Munoz said.
Attorneys for Mr Munoz have said the parents of Marlise agreed with her husband's request to turn off the ventilator.
The lawyers also provided medical records they said show that the foetus suffered from oxygen deprivation and appears to have deformed lower extremities.
They argued that keeping the woman alive would set a dangerous precedent for similar cases in the future.