The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

January 27, 2014

Brain-dead Texas woman taken off life support

(Continued)

Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. sided Friday with Erick Munoz, saying in his order: "Mrs. Munoz is dead."

Erick Munoz found his wife unconscious in their Haltom City home on Nov. 26, possibly due to a blood clot. Doctors soon determined that she was brain-dead, which meant that she was both medically and legally dead by law, but kept her on machines to keep her organs functioning for the sake of the fetus.

Shortly after the hospital announced its decision not to fight the judge's order, his attorneys announced that she had been disconnected from life support about 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

"May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey," they said in a statement.

Munoz told The Associated Press this month that he wanted to move forward with caring for the couple's infant son and relatives stricken by the tragedy.

Larry Thompson, a state's attorney who argued on behalf of the hospital Friday, said the hospital was trying to protect the rights of the fetus as it believed Texas law instructed it to do. The hospital's attorneys cited a section of the Texas Advance Directives Act that reads: "A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient."

"There is a life involved, and the life is the unborn child," Thompson told the judge.

Legal experts told the AP that the hospital was misreading the Texas Advance Directives Act and that the law isn't an absolute command to keep a pregnant woman on life support.

The case has been noted by Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the two leading candidates running to replace him, but none of them has called for any new laws yet or action as a result of the case.

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