Marlise Munoz removed from life support, will finally be laid to rest

The family "will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Muñoz’s body to rest," lawyers said

Published January 27, 2014 2:51PM (EST)

Erick and Marlise Munoz
Erick and Marlise Munoz

Marlise Munoz, a brain-dead woman who was pregnant at the time of her death in November, was removed from a respirator and other machines on Sunday in compliance with a court order and the wishes of the woman's husband and parents.

John Peter Smith Hospital in Forth Worth, Texas, refused to honor Erick Munoz's request to disconnect his deceased wife from the machines for two months. After a long legal battle, a state district judge ruled on Friday that the hospital had wrongly applied a state law barring doctors from withdrawing "life-sustaining treatment" to women who are found to be pregnant because Munoz was medically and legally dead.

In a statement on its compliance with the order, the hospital defended its decision to keep a medically and legally dead woman on a respirator and other machines against the wishes of the family of the deceased. “J.P.S. Health Network has followed what we believed were the demands of a state statute,” said spokeswoman Jill Labbe. “From the onset, J.P.S. has said its role was not to make nor contest law but to follow it.”

Previously, lawyers for the hospital said its actions upheld the Texas Legislature’s “commitment to the life and health of unborn children.”

A statement from attorneys for the Munoz family and the hospital both confirmed during the Friday hearing that the fetus gestating in Munoz's deceased body was not viable.

“The Muñoz and Machado families will now proceed with the somber task of laying Marlise Muñoz’s body to rest, and grieving over the great loss that has been suffered,” lawyers Heather King and Jessica Janicek said in a statement. “May Marlise Muñoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey.”

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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