Texas judge: Remove brain-dead woman from ventilator, other mach - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Texas judge: Remove brain-dead woman from ventilator, other machines

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(CNN) -- A Texas judge ordered a hospital on Friday to remove a pregnant and brain-dead woman from respirators and ventilators by 5 p.m. Monday.

The hospital can appeal the decision.

On Friday, John Peter Smith Hospital acknowledged for the first time that Marlise Munoz, who is being kept on a respirator under Texas law, has been brain dead since November 28 and that the "fetus gestating inside Mrs. Munoz is not viable," according to court documents released before a Friday hearing.

The woman's husband has repeatedly made these claims in his efforts to have her removed from the machines so the family can bury her.

Erick Munoz contends doctors told him his wife "had lost all activity in her brain stem" and an accompanying chart stated that she was "brain dead." He has further called her "nothing more than an empty shell" who should be left to rest in peace.

The overarching, complicated issue of whether the pregnant woman should be kept on a ventilator, as prescribed by Texas law, has been the subject of debate.

The wrenching story started with a pregnant woman found unconscious on her kitchen floor. In the more than eight weeks since then, lying supine in a hospital bed, the 33-year-old became the focus of an intense, emotional debate about who is alive, who is dead, and how the presence of a fetus possibly changes the equation.

Hospital spokesman J.R. Labbe said last month that doctors are simply trying to obey a Texas law that says "you cannot withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant patient."

The wrenching story started with a pregnant woman found unconscious on her kitchen floor. In the more than eight weeks since then, lying supine in a hospital bed, the 33-year-old became the focus of an intense, emotional debate about who is alive, who is dead, and how the presence of a fetus possibly changes the equation.

Hospital spokesman J.R. Labbe said last month that doctors are simply trying to obey a Texas law that says "you cannot withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant patient."

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