A judge ordered on Friday that Marlise Muñoz, who has been kept on life support despite her family's wishes, be formally declared dead, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Muñoz had already been declared brain dead after falling unconscious in November 2013 as a result of a pulmonary embolism, but because she was pregnant at the time, officials at John Peter Smith Hospital (JPS) argued that she be kept on life support for the sake of her pregnancy, citing a state law, the Advance Directive Act.
However, Judge R.H. Wallace noted that, were she capable, Muñoz might have chosen to have an abortion. Her family's attorneys reported on Wednesday that the fetus had suffered oxygen deprivation, fluid buildup in its skull and deterioration of its lower extremities.
"I respect JPS' arguments in trying to follow the law," Wallace was quoted as saying. "But every section doesn't apply to someone who is dead."
Two hours before his ruling, attorneys for both the facility and Muñoz's husband, Erick Muñoz, filed a joint document to the court stating that they agreed that the fetus was not viable.
Erick Muñoz also filed an affadavit on Thursday reaffirming his stance that, since both he and his wife were paramedics, she was fully aware of the consequences behind her wish to be taken off life support in this kind of scenario.
"I have had to endure the pain of watching my wife's dead body be treated as if she were still alive," the affadavit stated. "As a married man, I became very familiar with the way Marlise’s body felt, the way her hair smelled, and the way her eyes appeared when we looked at each other among other things. Over these past two months, nothing about my wife indicates she is alive. When I bend down to kiss her forehead, her usual scent is gone, replaced instead with what I can only describe as the smell of death."
[Image: Heart monitor screen via Shutterstock]