Marlise Munoz, a pregnant Texas woman who was at the center of a heated court battle over the meanings of "alive" and "dead," especially when there is a fetus involved, has been removed from the ventilator that had sustained her since she was pronounced brain-dead in late November. The hospital had refused to abide by her family's wishes that she be removed from the life-support equipment, citing Texas law that prohibits removing a pregnant woman from the machines. Last week, a judge ordered the hospital to comply with the family's wishes. More from CNN.com:
The devices that had kept Marlise Munoz's heart and lungs working for two months were switched off about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, her family's attorneys announced.
"May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey," the lawyers, Heather King and Jessica Janicek, said in a written statement.
Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant with the couple's second child when her husband found her unconscious on their kitchen floor November 26. Though doctors had pronounced her brain dead and her family had said she did not want to have machines keep her body alive, officials at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth had said state law required them to maintain life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant patient.
Sunday's announcement came two days after a judge in Fort Worth ordered the hospital to remove any artificial means of life support from Munoz by 5 p.m. Monday. Earlier Sunday, the hospital said it intended to comply with that order.
"The past eight weeks have been difficult for the Munoz family, the caregivers and the entire Tarrant County community, which found itself involved in a sad situation," a hospital statement said. "JPS Health Network has followed what we believed were the demands of a state statute."
The hospital acknowledged Friday that Munoz, 33, had been brain dead since November 28 and that the fetus she carried was not viable. Her husband, Erick Munoz, had argued that sustaining her body artificially amounted to "the cruel and obscene mutilation of a deceased body" against her wishes and those of her family.