Judge Finally Orders Brain Dead Pregnant Woman Off Life Support

The case is a tragic one. Marlise Munoz was a young wife and mother when she collapsed in her kitchen at 2 a.m. on November 26. The 33-year-old had suffered a pulmonary embolism, and lay unconscious on the floor for at least an hour before her husband found her and called the paramedics. She was 14 weeks pregnant.

Though Marlise was declared “brain dead” on November 28, the baby was still alive, which means that under Texas law, she must be kept on life support to support the growing child. Her husband Erick has said repeatedly that his wife would not want to be kept alive on machines, and that since the baby was deprived of oxygen for an “indeterminable” amount of time, it’s continued development shouldn’t be a priority in the decision to end the physical life of the mother.


Marlise is now 22 weeks pregnant, and a judge has finally ordered that her husband’s wishes be respected. The hospital must remove the respirators and ventilators by 5 p.m. Monday, thus ending the life of the baby.

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This case is so freaking sad it breaks my heart. Erick’s attorneys have claimed that the child is “distinctly abnormal” and has lower extremity deformities so severe that determining the gender is impossible.

Side note: If that is true, then the deformity is unrelated to the mother’s health, as all of baby’s limbs, fingers, and toes are fully formed by 14 weeks.

The lawyers also claimed that the baby is “gestating within a dead and deteriorating body, as horrified family looks on in absolute anguish, distress and sadness,” which is all very sad rhetoric, and totally gut wrenching, even if it’s completely inaccurate. Mom may be brain dead, but she’s not physically dead. If she were, the baby would die within minutes from lack of oxygen.

I get that Erick wants closure with the death of his wife, and I have to believe that he truly feels that his unborn child is unviable, because thinking about a dad that so desperately wants to end the life of his unborn baby so that he may bury his wife a few months sooner is just too depressing to think about.

On the other hand, these are unprecedented circumstances, and I won’t even pretend to know what the family is going through right now.

The whole thing is just tragic all around.

Do you agree with the decision to take Marlise off life support?

Image via David Fiander/Flickr

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