FORT WORTH, TX, January 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In accordance with a judge's order sought by her husband, officials at John Peter Smith Hospital removed Marlise Munoz from all life support equipment yesterday.
Her case became a national rallying cry for the pro-life movement, because the 33-year-old woman, who had been pronounced “brain dead,” was carrying a 22-week-old baby.
The Fort Worth hospital removed Munoz from her ventilator at 11:30 Sunday morning, initiating the process that would lead to the baby's demise.
Attorneys for Erick Munoz, Marlise's husband, released a statement saying, “Our client, Erick Munoz, has authorized us to give notice that today, at approximately 11:30 a.m. Central time … Marlise Munoz's body was disconnected from 'life support' and released to Mr. Munoz. The Munoz and Machado families 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.”
They called their client's legal battle “an unbearably long and arduous journey.”
Dozens of pro-life Texans, who had attended the hearing, mourned during a prayer vigil at the hospital Sunday morning, holding roses and singing hymns. They said the decision disregarded Munoz's unborn child.
“The death of Baby Munoz represents a colossal failure on so many levels,” said Mark Harrington, executive director of Created Equal. “Her father failed her. The Attorney General of Texas, Greg Abbott,” who is running for governor, “failed her. The hospital failed her. Finally, by usurping the will of the people of Texas, the courts failed her.”
“If only one of those in position to stop this execution of Baby Munoz would have stepped up to the plate and done the right thing, she would have been born alive in the next few weeks,” Harrington said.
“Baby Munoz was a human being who deserved the same legal protections of born people,” Harrington said. “The truth is Baby Munoz was executed by judicial tyranny.”
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman blamed the media's use of the term “brain death” for the baby's death.
“The public has been given the erroneous impression that Marlise is a dead and decaying corpse,” Newman said. “Marlise’s heart continues to beat and she continues to nourish her pre-born baby. A rotting corpse cannot do that.”
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Munoz's husband, Erick, found Marlise collapsed in their Haltom City, Texas, home on November 26. She was then 14 weeks pregnant. Under Texas law, a hospital must continue to sustain the life functions of a pregnant woman, even if she is pronounced “brain dead,” so as not to jeopardize the life of her unborn child.
Erick won a court order from Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. on Friday afternoon to remove the machines keeping his wife and unborn child alive, arguing that his wife did not wish to live through artificial means and that his child was “distinctly abnormal.”
Wallace ruled that the hospital must remove Munoz from life support by 5 p.m. Central Time on today.
The judge based his decision in part on the precedents of Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. Judge Wallace reportedly told the court room, “As I understand the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that if this fetus were not viable [and] Ms. Muñoz were alive … she could abort the child.”
Judge Wallace ruled that the hospital had misapplied the law and did not have to disregard what Erick Munoz said were Marlise's wishes.
Marlise Munoz had no written directives about the matter.
The hospital has ruled out an appeal. “From the onset, JPS has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it,” said hospital spokeswoman Jill “J.R.” Labbe, a former editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “On Friday, a state district judge ordered the removal of life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz. The hospital will follow the court order.”
Jennifer Bard, a law professor at the Texas Tech School of Medicine, has said Texas law will have to be clarified to avoid future cases of conflicting statutes. “There’s a law that says you can’t remove any kind of life-sustaining care from a pregnant woman, and another law that allows someone to be declared dead if someone loses all brain function,” she said. “There’s nothing that says how those two laws work together.”
The result, many Texas citizens believe, was tragedy. Rhonda Aubert told the Dallas Morning News yesterday, “I just wish the baby would have had a chance.”