Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT/Landov
January 26, 2014 03:15 PM

A Fort Worth hospital has removed from life support a brain-dead Texas woman who was pregnant and the subject of a national debate and lawsuit over end of life care.

Attorneys for the family of Marlise Munoz, 33, announced Sunday afternoon that she had been removed from a ventilator, the Associated Press reported.

The actions came after a judge ordered on Friday that Munoz be removed from life support by 5 p.m. Monday.

“Munoz’s body was disconnected from ‘life support’ ” at approximately 11:30 a.m. central time on Sunday, according to a statement released on behalf of her husband, Erick, and the Munoz family.

“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,” the statement added. “May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey.”

Munoz, a mother of a 16-month-old son, was found unconscious at her home on Nov. 26 by her husband. She was 14 weeks pregnant at the time and never regained consciousness, her condition likely brought about by a pulmonary embolism, doctors said.

Her condition sparked a national debate, however, when the hospital where she was kept on life support, John Peter Smith Hospital, prevented her from being removed from a ventilator, citing state law that prevents such a removal for patients who are pregnant.

Her family, who argued that being kept alive artificially was against her stated wishes and theirs, fought back. Husband Erick filed a lawsuit on Jan. 14, noting that “Marlise cannot be a pregnant patient – Marlise is dead.”

His attorneys noted that the woman’s unborn fetus was determined to be “distinctly abnormal,” suffering from hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and with lower extremities so deformed at 21-week gestation that the baby’s gender couldn’t be determined.

They had argued that the Texas state law that prohibits removal of life-support measures from a pregnant patient – a law that exists in at least 30 other states – did not apply to patients who were dead.

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