Texas Hospital Removes Pregnant Woman from Life Support, Ending Unborn Baby’s Life

munoz familyFORT WORTH, Tex. — A hospital in Texas has decided not to fight a judge’s orders to remove a pregnant brain dead woman from life support, removing the woman from the ventilator on Sunday and thus ending her nearly 23-week-old baby’s life.

“From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it,” John Peter Smith Hospital representative J.R. Labbe wrote in a statement released Sunday morning. “On Friday, a state district judge ordered the removal of life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz. The hospital will follow the court order.”

As previously reported, Munoz, 33, has been on a ventilator since late November when her husband Erick, 26, found her unconscious in the middle of the night. According to Mr. Munoz, the woman got up after 2 a.m. to check on their infant son, and when she did not return, he got up to check on both of them, finding his wife collapsed on the floor.

Doctors believe that Munoz suffered a blood clot in her lung, which caused her to collapse. She has had no brain activity since being admitted to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth two months ago. However, her baby, who was fourteen weeks gestation at the time of the incident, reportedly had a measurable heartbeat, which resulted in a disagreement between the hospital and Munoz’ family.

Munoz’ husband and her parents both wanted the mother removed from life support, asserting that she would not wish to be kept alive by machines. The family filed a lawsuit against John Peter Smith Hospital earlier this month after officials contended that they could not legally remove Munoz from the ventilator due to the Texas Advance Directive Act, which states that “a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment” from a pregnant woman.

Following a hearing on Friday, Judge R.H. Wallace sided with Munoz’ family, stating that she is deceased and that the law being cited by the hospital does not apply to the dead.

“The provisions of … the Texas Health and Safety Code do not apply to Marlise Munoz because applying the standard used in determining death … Mrs. Munoz is dead,” he wrote.

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As the hospital had argued at trial that it had never pronounced Munoz dead, Wallace ordered that it now do so and remove her from life support by 5 p.m. Monday. The hospital decided to comply with the order and removed Munoz from the ventilator at approximately 11:30 a.m. local time on Sunday.

Munoz’ body has now been released to her husband.

“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,” attorneys Heather L. King and Jessica H. Janicek wrote in a statement. “May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey.”

However, some are expressing great disapproval over the outcome of the situation, explaining that it has now resulted in two tragedies–the death of both the mother and child.

“The death of baby Munoz represents a colossal failure on so many levels. Her father failed her. The Attorney General of Texas Greg Abbot failed her. The hospital failed her. Finally, by usurping the will of the people of Texas, the courts failed her,” said Mark Harrington, Executive Director of the pro-life group Created Equal. “If only those one of those in position to stop this execution of baby Munoz would have stepped up to the plate and done the right thing, she would have been born alive in the next few weeks. Baby Munoz was a human being who deserved the same legal protections of born people. The truth is baby Munoz was executed by judicial tyranny.”

Protests were held outside of the hospital following the death of the baby. Some reports state that the baby was “distinctly abnormal” and had serious health concerns due to Munoz being brain dead for two months, but others have opined that the baby’s condition still does not justify ending the child’s life.

“Why was baby Munoz denied even the possibility of survival? It appears that the baby girl’s disabilities determined her value in this case, and sadly, it was wrongly decided that her life was not worth saving,” said Jennifer Mason of Personhood USA. “According to ABC News, family attorneys may have blamed a lack of oxygen for the baby’s apparent medical issues incorrectly, according to medical experts. Regardless, disabled children are created in God’s image, and still have a right to live.”

“The baby may or may not have survived a c-section, but if she didn’t make it, her passing would have been a tragedy instead of a deliberate killing,” she added. “It is absolutely wrong to kill an innocent person, no matter their age, location, size, sex, race, or ability. The murder of Marlise Munoz’ baby was wrong, just as abortion is always wrong.”

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  • I don’t understand how could Mr. Munoz not want or allow his baby to be born it is sad to what had happened to his wife but the baby had the right to life who are we to decided who should live or not we are no one to make such a decision but only God the one who gives life

  • WorldGoneCrazy

    Notice that the attorneys’ statement says nothing about the unborn child.

  • Don

    Erick Munoz, will now have two deaths he will have to live with which he was all for.

  • Amber

    I cannot even imagine having to make this decision. This poor man tragically lost his wife and precious unborn child. To me that is an unfathomable loss. Not only must he go on, he is raising a child alone. None of this asked for. I pray that God gives his supernatural strength and peace to move forward without condemnation. Unlike the people who are offering their opinions then forgetting, this Father and husband will never forget. I am born again christian and of course, 100% pro-life without exception. The bible says Gods thought are higher then our thoughts and his ways higher then ours… Will never fully understand why He does what He does. And that is okay. But for whatever the reason, the very same God that gave this precious baby girl life, also decided to take her home with Him. Why? I cannot answer. And I will not try to figure it out. As tragic as this scenerio is, you must understand this: the very same means people are in an uproar removing is man made means of prolonging life. Again, being a Christian and a nurse, I am not against life support. However, it is mans attempt at holding on to life. Without it, the baby would have never survived. What is the difference between man “giving” life, and man “taking it away”? Ask yourself. Ultimatly, God is still in control. In saying, if someone needs to be judged, leave that job up to the giver of life and ultimate judge. Until then, Christians pray for this man who needs grace and strength much more than our opinions (whether right or wrong).

  • Reesa

    The mother’s own written statements, according to her family, made it clear that she never wanted to be on life support.  Her family wanted to honor her wishes.  The unborn child belonged to the father and the mother. It was their wishes *only* that should have been considered.  

    It is understandable to keep a mother *alive* for a short period of time to bring a well developed pregnancy to full term.  But it is ridiculous and grotesque to use a brain dead woman as an incubator.  Keep in mind that when the mother *died* she was only 14 weeks along in her pregnancy.  It is typical American medicine to prolong death. And now it intends to create un-natural prenatal conditions?

    Since when do we, as pro-life Christians, want to give the State power over our own personal beliefs and final wishes?  Abortion is wrong but allowing a woman to die naturally is right and natural, and perhaps the will of God.