US & Canada

Texas judge orders removal of pregnant Marlise Munoz life support

Media captionBBC's Beth McLeod: "Texas has some of the toughest restrictions laws on abortion in the country"

A Texas judge has ordered a hospital to remove the life support of a brain-dead woman being kept alive because she is pregnant.

Judge RH Wallace gave John Peter Smith Hospital until Monday evening to cease life-saving measures for Marlise Munoz.

Mrs Munoz, 33, was 14 weeks pregnant when she fell unconscious in November. It is believed she had a blood clot.

The hospital had argued that a state law prohibits denying life-saving treatment to pregnant patients.

'Legally dead'

Mrs Munoz's husband, Erick, filed suit against the hospital on 14 January, arguing that life-support efforts go against her wishes as a paramedic familiar with end-of-life issues.

"Marlise Munoz is legally dead, and to further conduct surgical procedures on a deceased body is nothing short of outrageous," he claimed in court documents.

The court filing also stipulated that, as Mrs Munoz is technically deceased, "she cannot possibly be a 'pregnant patient'" under Texas health and safety codes.

Mrs Munoz, 33, has remained unconscious since her husband discovered her on the kitchen floor on 26 November while pregnant with the couple's second child.

A blood clot has been listed as a possible cause.

Mr Munoz's lawyers subsequently revealed that Mrs Munoz's foetus - believed to be at 22 weeks gestation and to have been without oxygen for some time before medical intervention in November - was "distinctly abnormal", according to hospital medical records.

On Friday, Judge Wallace ruled the Fort Worth hospital must remove Mrs Munoz's life support by 17:00 local time (23:00 GMT) on Monday.

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