Health

Brain Dead, Pregnant Woman Marlise Munoz Taken Off Life Support

| by Allison Geller

After a long legal battle, Marlise Munoz, a brain dead woman who had been artificially kept alive for two months for the sake of her fetus, has been taken off life support.

Munoz’ husband and family had been fighting with a Texas law that requires pregnant women to be kept of life support, no matter the circumstances. Erick Munoz sued John Peter Smith Hospital for denying the wishes his wife had expressed long before suffering the random pulmonary stroke that ended her conscious life, almost two months to the day ago—that she did not want to be kept artificially alive in such circumstances.

“I have had to endure the pain of watching my wife’s dead body be treated as if she were still alive,” Erick Munoz wrote in a heartfelt affidavit Thursday. “Over these past two months, nothing about my wife indicates she is alive. When I bend down to kiss her forehead, her usual scent is gone, replaced instead with what I can only describe as the smell of death.”

Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. agreed with Munoz in his ruling Friday that the woman could no longer be considered alive.

"Mrs. Munoz is dead,” he wrote in the order.

A section of the Texas law reads, "A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient."

“I respect JPS’ arguments in trying to follow the law,” the judge wrote of the hospital’s actions, “but every section doesn’t apply to someone who is dead.”

Pro-life advocates have expressed opposition to pulling Munoz’ life support.

"There is a life involved, and the life is the unborn child," state attorney Larry Thompson argued on behalf of the hospital Friday.

The ruling did not mention the fetus.

Marlise Munoz was removed from life support shortly after. At 23 weeks old, the fetus was not delivered. Doctors confirmed that the fetus was “distinctly abnormal” last week, answering one pressing question about the viability of delivering a healthy baby when the mother had been without oxygen for a considerable length of 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," the hospital wrote in a statement Sunday, after announcing it would comply with the judge’s order.

Sources: Associated Press, Dallas Morning News