Judge Orders Hospital To End Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman’s Life Support
A Texas court has delivered a robust defense of the power of living wills and ruled against an institution that decided it was going to use vagaries in state law to play God.
A judge has ordered a Texas hospital to remove life support for a pregnant, brain-dead woman who was being kept on a respirator against her family’s wishes.
RH Wallace, a district judge in Fort Worth, ruled in the case of Marlise Munoz that the John Peter Smith hospital misapplied a Texas statute that makes it illegal to withdraw life-sustaining treatment from pregnant women. “Mrs Munoz is dead,” he declared.
The judge gave the hospital until 5pm CST (11pm GMT) on Monday to comply. The hospital said in a statement that it “appreciates the potential impact of the consequences of the order on all parties involved” and was deciding whether to appeal.
Munoz has been kept on life support for the past two months because the hospital claimed it would be illegal under Texas law to withdraw treatment, since the fetus would die as a result. In court documents released on Friday, the hospital accepted that the fetus was not viable.
The hospital based its case on a line in the Texas Advance Directives Act of 1999 which states that “a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment … from a pregnant patient.” The Munoz family argued that this clause does not apply because the 33-year-old is legally dead.