A Texas hospital on Sunday complied with a judge's order and removed a pregnant and brain-dead woman from life support after her husband filed a lawsuit requesting the move, according to media reports.
Erick Munoz initially brought his wife to John Peter Smith Hospital Nov. 26 after finding her unconscious in their home. At the time of the emergency, she was 14-weeks pregnant, and doctors traced her collapse to a blood clot. Later that day, according to court documents obtained by various outlets, doctors told Munoz that his wife had lost brain stem activity. Munoz, a paramedic, says he also saw charts indicating that his wife was "brain dead."
With his in-laws' consent, Erick Munoz asked doctors to take his wife off life support and sued after hospital officials refused to do so. Marlise, also a paramedic, frequently talked about end-of-life decisions with her husband, he says, and he knew she would not want to be resuscitated if she was ever "brain dead," the documents note.
Staff at the hospital initially argued that Texas law required them to keep Munoz's body attached to a ventilator and other medical machinery in order to save the fetus she carried. On Friday, however, the hospital stated that Munoz had indeed been brain dead since Nov. 28 and noted that her fetus was not viable.
The publicity surrounding the hospital's actions and the ensuing lawsuit spurred debate over abortion regulations and end-of-life choices. It also forced Texas courts to interpret its own legislation regarding whether a legally dead patient should stay on life support in order to save a fetus. At the time of Munoz's removal from life support, the fetus was 23 weeks old.
Marlise Munoz's family members released a statement through their lawyers, Heather King and Jessica Janicek, which read, "May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey," CNN reported.
It is not certain whether the judge's decision will impact Texas law. In the past few years, Texas has passed several anti-abortion regulations, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, according to a report produced by NARAL Pro-Choice America.
"The Munoz and Machado families will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Munoz's body to rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered," said King and Janicek, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.