Woman disconnected from life support

A brain-dead, pregnant Texas woman’s body was removed from life support Sunday, as the hospital keeping her on machines against her family’s wishes acceded to a judge’s ruling that it was misapplying state law.

Marlise Muñoz’s body soon will be buried by her husband and parents, after John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth announced it would not fight Judge R.H. Wallace Jr.’s order Friday to pronounce her dead and return her body to her family. The 23-week-old fetus she was carrying will not be born.

The hospital’s decision Sunday ends a case that became a touchstone for national debates about the beginning and end of life, and whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus.

Muñoz’s husband, Erick Muñoz, sued the hospital because it would not remove life support as he said his wife would have wanted in such a situation. Erick and Marlise Muñoz worked as paramedics and were familiar with end-of-life issues, and Erick said his wife had told him she would not want to be kept alive under such circumstances.

But the hospital refused his request, citing Texas law that says life-sustaining treatment cannot be withdrawn from a pregnant patient, regardless of her
end-of-life wishes.

Wallace sided Friday with Erick Muñoz, saying in his order: “Mrs. Muñoz is dead.”

Wallace had given the hospital until 5 p.m. Monday to comply with his order, but officials there said Sunday morning that it would forego any appeal. Shortly afterward, Erick Munoz’s attorneys said that she had been disconnected from life support about 11:30 a.m.

— Associated Press

U.S. officials probe cruise-ship illness: U.S. health officials on Sunday boarded a cruise ship docked in the U.S. Virgin Islands to investigate an illness outbreak that has stricken at least 300 people with gastrointestinal symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that 281, or nearly 10 percent, of the 3,050 passengers aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas have reported getting sick during a Caribbean cruise that left Cape Liberty, N.J., on Tuesday. Twenty-two crew members also reported feeling ill.

Colorado professor reinstated: A religious-studies professor in Colorado who was suspended after his silent protest against alleged racial bias led to complaints about his refusal to speak during classes has been reinstated. Naropa University professor Don Matthews was reinstated after the start of the spring semester, which began Jan. 13, and has hired an attorney to negotiate the terms of his employment at the school. Matthews was suspended in December after staging a silent protest that extended into the classroom — and after university officials said that dozens of students complained about him in recent months. Matthews, who is black, said the university has displayed institutional racism, and his case is being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board.

Owner rescues dog from freezing lake: A dog owner leapt into a freezing lake in New York City’s Central Park to rescue her dog from drowning. The New York Post reported that the woman was walking five dogs on the northern edge of the park Sunday morning when one of them ran away and jumped into the Harlem Meer. The partly frozen man-made lake is surrounded by signs that warn of dangerous thin ice. The woman jumped in after the dog and police used a life preserver to pull them both out.

— From news services