FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) - A judge agreed over the weekend to let a man take his brain-dead wife off life support, finding that a law meant to protect her unborn child does not apply.
Erick Munoz sued
John Peter Smith Hospital in Tarrant County Court on Jan. 14 over its refusal to stop administering life-sustaining care to his wife, Marlise Munoz.
Drawing on their experience as paramedics, Erick and Marlise had said that they would both reject resuscitation if they were found to be brain-dead, according to the complaint.
That decision was tested last November when Erick found his wife unconscious on the kitchen floor. He says she was 14 weeks pregnant at the time.
Though doctors later declared Marlise brain-dead, they continued to treat her to keep her fetus alive, despite the wishes of her family members.
The hospital argued that the Texas Health and Safety Code prevented it from denying life-sustaining treatment to a pregnant patient.
Erick insisted, however, that the provision does not apply to his wife because she is legally dead.
The struggle between a grieving husband and the county hospital attracted national attention.
Shortly before an afternoon hearing this past Friday, a stipulation of facts
was filed with the court, stating that "the fetus gestating inside Mrs. Munoz is not viable."
Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. ruled
that the hospital misapplied the Texas Health and Safety Code. The judge gave the hospital until 5 p.m. on Monday to remove Marlise from the ventilator. Her life support was terminated on Sunday morning, WFAA reported.
Wallace's one-page order does not address the constitutional challenges raised in Erick's complaint.