In the saddest news articles I've read in a long time, a Fort Worth, Texas judge ordered a hospital to remove Marlise Muñoz, who is 22 weeks pregnant, from life support. The judge also ordered the hospital to pronounce Mrs. Muñoz dead. After the judge's oral decision, her husband, Erick Munoz, wept in the courtroom.
The hospital acknowledged in court papers that the fetus is not viable. Mr. Muñoz's lawyers said that he and Mrs. Muñoz's parents were provided with medical records that showed the fetus was “distinctly abnormal” and suffered from hydrocephalus — an accumulation of fluid in the cavities of the brain — as well as a possible heart problem. He has been fighting for eight weeks to have life support removed.
The judge made the order effective on Monday the 27th to give the hospital time to file an appeal. Clearly, this is a tragic situation, one made all the more painful for the family by the hospital's actions. Mrs. Muñoz has been on life support for eight weeks. According to the NY Times, she was at home in the middle of the night when she collapsed from an apparent blood clot in her lungs. Her husband--a trained paramedic--found her in the kitchen, where she had gone to prepare a bottle for their young son.
Her parents and her husband’s lawyers said she was not breathing for an unknown length of time, possibly as long as an hour or more, which severely harmed the fetus by depriving it of oxygen.
The entire news article is here: Fernandez, Manny. "Judge Orders Hospital to Remove Pregnant Woman From Life Support." New York Times, January 24, 2014.
UPDATE: Monday, January 27, 2014 The New York Times reports that the John Peter Smith Hospital decided not to appeal but to comply with the judge's order to remove Marlise Muñoz from life support this morning. Fernandez, Manny. "Texas Woman Is Taken Off Life Support After Order." January 27, 2014. Life support was removed this morning.