published Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Family: Brain-dead Texas woman off life support

Erick Munoz, husband of Marlise Munoz, is escorted out of court by his attorney Heather L. King, right, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Erick Munoz, husband of Marlise Munoz, is escorted out of court by his attorney Heather L. King, right, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

FORT WORTH, Texas — The family of a brain-dead, pregnant Texas woman said Sunday afternoon that she has been removed from life support following a judge's ruling that a Fort Worth hospital was misapplying state law in the case.

A statement sent Sunday afternoon by lawyers for the husband of Marlise Munoz says she was disconnected from life support about 11:30 a.m.

It says her body was released to her husband, Erick Munoz.

The family "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," the statement says.

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

"From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it," the statement says. "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 had given the 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, at about 23 weeks, 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.

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