Texas judge orders hospital to remove life support to dead pregnant patient

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Fort Worth, TX, United States (4E) – A Texas judge has ordered a Fort Worth hospital to remove the life support to a dead pregnant patient by Monday 5 p.m.

State District Judge R.H. Wallace’s order came Friday in response to a Jan. 14 lawsuit of the family of Marlise Muñoz, 33, who was pronounced dead on Nov. 28 due to a possible blot clot in the brain. Her husband, Erick Munoz, argued that John Peter Smith Hospital kept her on life support against his will.

The patient, who was 14 weeks pregnant when she became brain-dead, was kept on life support because her fetus was alive and doctors had to comply with a Texas law that prohibits denying life-saving treatment to pregnant patient. Muñoz was dead, and the state law about pregnant patients does not apply, the patient’s husband argued in the suit.

The hospital, however, can appeal the judge’s decision and this motion will keep the life support of the dead patient turned on. It is still consulting with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office on what step to take, John Peter Smith Hospital spokeswoman J.R. Labbe said in an e-mail on Saturday.

On Friday, the fetus was already 22 weeks and 5 days old, according to the hospital. When the fetus reaches 24 weeks, it would have more than a minimal chance of survival outside the womb, according to medical experts.

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