Hospital Agrees to Obey Court Ruling and Removes Mechanical Support From Munoz Corpse

Read more of our coverage on Marlise Munoz’s case here.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. (CT), in accordance with the order of the 96th District Court of Tarrant County, Texas, issued Friday, January 24, 2014, Marlise Munoz’s body was disconnected from “life support” and released to her husband, Erick Munoz. According to lawyers for the Munoz and Machado families, they “will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Munoz’s body to rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered. May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey.

Earlier this morning, hospital officials in Fort Worth, Texas, released a statement saying that they would not challenge the court ruling compelling them to take Marlise Munoz, the brain-dead woman who collapsed in her home in November, off the machines being used to operate her heart and lungs. Munoz’s body had been kept on mechanical support to continue gestating a fetus that was 14-weeks when she died.

“From the onset, [John Peter Smith Hospital] has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it,” said officials in the statement. The statement continued, “On Friday, a state district judge ordered the removal of life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz. The hospital will follow the court order.”

Calling the Munoz case a “sad situation,” John Peter Smith Hospital (JPSH) said it “followed what we believed were the demands of a state statute.” That statute, a 1999 advance directives law, dictates that “a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.”

Marlise Munoz’s husband and parents have contended since November that Marlise, a paramedic, told them she never wanted to be kept on life support. Nevertheless, over the past eight weeks, JPSH officials have refused to take Munoz off of the machines sustaining her heart and lung functions, saying they had no choice but to continue Munoz’s pregnancy on her behalf and against her, and her family’s, wishes.

Anti-choice groups supported the hospital’s decision and protested Friday’s court hearing, while right-wing lawmakers lobbied to keep Munoz hospitalized; an anti-choice pastor told CNN on Friday that “something or somebody should’ve appointed an attorney to represent that baby.”

In court documents, hospital officials conceded that the fetus Munoz carried was not viable; test results showed a “distinctly abnormal” fetus, with “deformed” lower extremities that made sex identification impossible, as well as hydrocephalus and a potential heart problem.

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  • Mindy McIndy

    This is a sad victory, but a victory nonetheless. I feel so bad for the family, for everything they’ve had to go through in this fight. I hope they can finally begin to heal from this horrible ordeal. No one should be kept on life support against their wishes, for any reason whatsoever.

  • Jennifer Starr

    So sad they had to go through all this to finally be able to honor her wishes and finally allow her to rest in peace. My condolences to her friends and family at this difficult time.

  • lady_black

    Rest in peace Marlise. My thoughts are with the family, may they find peace and closure.

  • Plum Dumpling

    This is the second demonstration providence has sent these sick death deniers: Schaivo and Munoz.

    Hopefully, these two events will set precedent for future cases of this sort. My body and its contents belong entirely to me and my family.

  • Ella Warnock

    I hope this family knows they have many more supporters than detractors. What a travesty. Who would want a snapshot taken of their lives at the lowest, most tragic point ever? Memories made even more sorrowful by the ugliness of self-righteous, stiff-necked people puffed up with with pride in their own “holiness.” Marlise and family: I am so, so sorry this happened to you.

  • bitchybitchybitchy

    My deepest sympathy to the Munoz and Machado families. May Marlise finally rest in peace,and her family be able to mourn her in private.

  • Jennifer Starr

    Ahh–our downvoter strikes again, and yet is still too much of a fraidy-cat to post anything….

    • Ella Warnock

      What kind of person downvotes empathy for the pain of others? A sociopath, that’s who. And a cowardly one at that.

      • fiona64

        What kind of person downvotes empathy for the pain of others?

        An anti-choicer who thinks that a non-viable fetus is a person, but a woman isn’t …

        • HeilMary1

          One of my abusive relatives, perhaps?

      • Barry Evans

        Probably an anti-choice cretin who thinks a “precious baby” was “murdered” and is either ignorant of or wilfully dismisses the facts of the case. Plenty of them can be found by searching the Munoz hashtag on Twitter.

    • L-dan

      I just don’t see what they get out of it. Seems like it would be boring as hell and affects nothing.

      • Defamate

        What if the point is to get us talking about the downvotes!

        If so, victory!

    • Defamate
  • radicalhw

    This headline is a PERFECT example of how much our words matter in this case. Ms. Munoz’s corpse is being animated by machines–her “life” ended a long time ago. My appreciation to the Andrea Grimes and.the RH Reality Check editors.

    • Kelly S

      yeah, i don’t think a lot of attention has been given to the fact that her body is apparently already stiff as it would start to get after death, and they can’t move her. that makes it all the more disturbing. what is happening to internal organs? sounds like her body is already behaving as if it’s died, and the machines are just mechanically making organs move. so disturbing.

      • L-dan

        That’s pretty accurate. Without brain activity, operating the heart and lungs only goes so far. All those other organs don’t work properly without direction from the brain, and they are necessary. If they weren’t, we would need livers and kidneys for transplant.

        • Defamate

          Some ignorant fellow compared her to a goldfish bowel that merely needed to be fed automatically while the owner was out of town.

  • VeggieTart

    My heart goes out to Mr. Munoz and the Machados. I hope they can finally have the peace that has been denied them so long.

    And I’d love to see the anti-choice folks screaming about the fetus gestating inside a corpse pay the astronomical hospitals bills as a result of keeping this body on “life-support”.

  • Abe1865

    The baby can’t formed if the pregnant woman is not alive physically. These idiots who think a dead woman can take a baby to full term are clowns. It is like keeping a dead non pregnant person in a house for 2 months straight with a unbearable odor.