Judge: Marlise Muñoz to be removed from life support

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WFAA

Posted on January 24, 2014 at 6:50 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 24 at 7:20 PM

FORT WORTH -- District Judge R.H. Wallace ruled Friday afternoon the brain-dead, pregnant mother being kept alive at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, TX should be removed from life support.

Marlise Muñoz' husband, Erick Muñoz, filed a lawsuit against John Peter Smith Hospital seeking to remove life support from his wife. He said Marlise was clear about her wishes not to be kept alive in that state.

The family was crying after the ruling.

Texas' Health and Safety Code says a person cannot "withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment [...] for a pregnant patient." The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, which represented the hospital, said the request to remove Marlise Muñoz from life support “ignores consideration of the unborn child.”

The Muñoz family has said medical records show the fetus is "distinctly abnormal" and has water on the brain and may have a heart condition. Mrs. Muñoz is believed to be 22 weeks and five days into the pregnancy.

The Muñoz family attorneys argued Mrs. Muñoz is brain-dead, and therefore can't be considered a "pregnant patient."

The judge agreed, saying the state law does not apply to Marlise Muñoz "because she is deceased."

Judge Wallace said Mrs. Muñoz must be removed from life support by 5 p.m. Monday.

Fort Worth attorney Trent Loftin, who isn't connected to the case, said he believes Friday's hearing in front of District Judge R.H. Wallace likely won't be the end of the case. 

"I think whatever the judge decides, the other side will appeal to the second court of appeals and eventually to the supreme court of the state of Texas," Loftin said.

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