A judge ordered a Texas hospital to remove Marlise Munoz from life support on Friday, hours after John Peter Smith Hospital finally acknowledged that the fetus gestating inside the brain-dead woman was not "viable." Munoz was kept on life support against the wishes of her family, as hospital officials referred to a Texas law mandating that "you cannot withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant patient." According to the Associated Press, Judge R. H. Wallace Jr.'s order requires that the hospital remove her from life support by 5 p.m. central time on Monday.
If the hospital chooses not the appeal the ruling (it's expected to issue a statement soon), the heart-wrenching case of the Munoz family may finally be coming to an end. Over eight weeks ago, Munoz was found unconscious on her kitchen floor. Doctors have since told her husband Erick Munoz that she was "brain dead," meaning that the meets the legal and medical requirements for death. Both Munoz and his wife are paramedics, and Erick says that his wife had expressed a clear wish to him that she would not want to be kept on life support while brain dead. But the hospital refused to do it because Munoz is pregnant, and the issue ended up in court. CNN quotes an affidavit filed yesterday detailing what Erick has gone through as his wife is kept on life support:
Erick Munoz said little to him now is recognizable about Marlise. Her bones crack when her stiff limbs move. Her usual scent has been replaced by the "smell of death." And her once lively eyes have become "soulless."
"Over these past two months, nothing about my wife indicates she is alive," Erick Munoz said. "... What sits in front of me is a deteriorating body."
Wallace's order reads that the Texas law does not apply to Munoz because "Mrs. Munoz is dead" according to the standards in the state's health and safety code. Neither Erick Munoz nor the hospital's attorneys had an immediate comment to reporters just after the ruling.