Major developments Friday in a controversial case involving a pregnant, brain-dead woman who has been on life support for nearly two months.
CNN reported that District Judge R.H. Wallace ordered the defendant, John Peter Smith Hospital, to remove Marlise Munoz from life support. The judge ruled that Munoz, now 22 weeks pregnant, is dead and all machines keeping her alive need to be turned off.
Munoz has been on life support in the Fort Worth hospital since November 26 after suffering what her family believes was a pulmonary embolism. Wallace's orders are in line with the wishes of Marlise's husband, Erick, who has long argued the fetus is withering in her lifeless body. Marlise's parents are reportedly in favor of removing her from life support, as well.
The controversy stems from a politically divisive move made last summer. In July, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law tough new restrictions on abortion, including a ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Under Texas law, a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient, even if there is a "do not resuscitate" request from the patient or if the family of the patient seeks to end life support.
Lawyers for Munoz argued that since she was clinically dead, she could no longer be considered a pregnant woman and that the fetus she was carrying was severely damaged.
Lawyers for the hospital, however, argued they were complying with a law that was intended to protect unborn children.
The hospital reportedly has until Monday at 5 p.m. Central Standard Time to remove the ventilator.