Texas court orders brain-dead pregnant woman Marlise Muñoz off life support

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A court in the US state of Texas has ordered a hospital to remove a pregnant but brain-dead woman from a life support system.

The judge ruled that Marlise Muñoz, who fell unconscious in November, it’s thought after suffering a blood clot, is dead. It is believed she was around 14 weeks pregnant at the time.

Her husband Erick Muñoz says he and his wife, both trained paramedics, had been clear about not wanting life support in this type of situation. He and her parents have been fighting to have her body released for burial.

“This was a sad situation all around. We are relieved that Erick Munoz can now move forward with the process of burying his wife,” said Heather King, Muñoz’s lawyer.

The family say medical records show the foetus, believed to be at 22 weeks gestation, is “distinctly abnormal”.

But the John Peter Smith hospital in Fort Worth had argued it was applying state law making it illegal to withdraw life-saving treatment from pregnant patients.

“We believe that there has been no-one on the other side, who is representing the interests of the child. We represent that interest. There are families who are standing by right now, who are willing to take the child, no matter what condition the child is in,” said pro-life activist Stephen Broden.

The stand-off has brought protests in support of the family, amid a fierce debate over the rights of unborn children and those of the families of patients declared brain-dead.

The court’s decision gives the hospital until Monday afternoon to withdraw life support.