Court rules Friday in brain-dead pregnant woman lawsuit - Dallas News |

Judge: brain-dead pregnant woman to be removed from life support

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A Tarrant County judge ruled Friday in favor of the family of a brain-dead pregnant woman who wished to take the mother off life support.

The ruling came after a brief hearing held Friday afternoon in a case that has drawn attention around the world. The judge said Marlise Munoz must be removed from life support by 5 p.m. on Monday.

The hospital can appeal and said in a statement after the ruling it will consult with the Tarrant County DA's office on its next move.

Munoz, 33, developed a blood clot, and in November, before controversy surrounded her brain-dead condition, Munoz was taken to JPS Hospital, 14 weeks pregnant with her second child.

The hospital disagreed with the family's wishes to have her removed from life support, citing a Texas law that requires a pregnant woman to be kept on life support until the fetus is viable at about 24 to 26 weeks.

During Friday's hearing, Erick Munoz sat stoic, only getting up once before it began to hug his family members. He wept twice -- once when graphic details about his wife were read to the judge, and again when the judge read the ruling.

"This is the decision we sought," said Heather King, Erick's attorney. "There's nothing happy about today."

Erick's attorney told the judge that JPS Hospital keeping Marlise Munoz on artificial life support since November was treating the 33-year-old wife and mother of a young boy like a science experiment.

During the hearing, the attorney for JPS, Larry Thompson, agreed that Marlise was brain-dead, which drew a question from the judge: why, then, had the hospital not yet pronounced her dead?

The judge told Thompson that most of the laws he used in his argument pertained to someone who is alive.

For many, the case focused on the potential of life for the fetus. Those at the hearing like the President of Texans for Life Coalition said that JPS was doing the right thing.

"We have a baby here who is almost 23 weeks, old very bear viability depending on how healthy he or she is, and we would like to see that due respect and..for this baby's rights are covered as well," said Kyleen Wright with Texans for Life.

Outside the courthouse, demonstrators stood in support of Erick.

Court documents filed on Friday by a family's lawyers and prosecutors representing a Fort Worth hospital stated the fetus inside a brain-dead pregnant woman was "not viable."

The court filing was the first time the hospital publicly acknowledged the deteriorating condition of the fetus and came just hours before the Friday afternoon hearing.

Erick Munoz, Marlise's husband, filed his own two-page sworn affidavit Thursday.

He begins by stating, "Since my wife's death on November 26th, 2013, I have had to endure the pain of watching my wife's dead body be treated as if she were alive."

He goes on to say he is positive that his wife Marlise is dead and lists several reasons, saying in part, "When I bend down to kiss her forehead, her usual scent is gone, replaced instead with what I can only describe as the smell of death."

He also says, "Her limbs have become so stiff and rigid due to her deteriorating condition that now, when I move her hands, her bones crack and her legs are nothing more than dead weight."

Lawyers for the family on said Wednesday said in a court filing the fetus of Munoz "is distinctly abnormal" and its lower extremities deformed.

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