FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – One North Texas family prepares to go into the weekend with a decided court victory. Friday afternoon a judge ordered that Marlise Munoz, a brain-dead hospital patient who is pregnant, be removed from life support.
The order came nearly two months after the Munoz family started battling with John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
While officials with the hospital sent out a statement saying that it was going to consult with attorneys, the hospital gave no indication as to whether it would comply with the court order.
In the courtroom though, it didn’t appear the district attorney was putting up a strong fight on the issue.
Both sides ended up agreeing that Marlise Munoz is dead and that her baby, even if born, likely wouldn’t live.
Marlise’s husband, Erick Munoz, walked away from the courthouse with a victory in a case where nobody wins. He cried often during the one-hour hearing that basically had him fighting to let his wife and unborn child die.
Munoz attorney Heather King said, “This is a sad situation all the way around. We are relieved Erick Munoz can now move forward with the process of burying his wife.”
Attorneys for the family argued in court that Marlise had been dead since she collapsed inside her home in November.
While the District Attorney’s Office agreed, they said the hospital was following the law by not withdrawing treatment from a pregnant patient.
Judge R. H. Wallace Jr. said the law didn’t apply, because Marlise is no longer alive.
A small group of people supporting the Munoz family and their fight gathered outside the courthouse – demonstrator Autumn Brackenn was among them. “I think the bottom line is that Marlise’ rights were being trampled, her constitutional rights. This state law needs to change.”
It didn’t appear that anyone was particularly happy about the decision, only relieved.
Kyleen Wright, with the Texans for Life Coalition, was hoping there was a way to save the Munoz baby. She was confident the judge made an educated ruling, but wished there was more information about the baby’s condition.
“I wish I knew what they all knew. My heart grieves for the baby and my heart grieves for that family,” she said. “I saw how broken up they all were in the courtroom. They clearly have been through the ringer.”
John Peter Smith Hospital has until Monday at 5 p.m. to take any type of action. Judge Wallace made it clear he made the ruling with a time window in case the hospital wants to appeal.
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