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Marlise Munoz

Brain-dead pregnant woman in Texas removed from life support

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Following a Jan. 24 court order, a Fort Worth hospital two days later removed a 33-year-old brain-dead pregnant woman from life support.

Marlise Munoz, who was 14 weeks pregnant when she collapsed at home in November and was deprived of oxygen for up to an hour, was being kept on life-sustaining machines at John Peter Smith Hospital against the wishes of her husband and parents.

Hospital officials said they could not remove her respirator because of a Texas law that prohibits doctors from withdrawing "life-sustaining treatment" from pregnant women.

'Great misunderstanding' seen on church's teachings on end of life

There is "great misunderstanding" among Catholics and others about the church's teachings on whether and when life-sustaining medical treatment can be withdrawn when death is near, according to a leading Catholic bioethicist.

Marie T. Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy and a staff ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said the Philadelphia-based center conducts about 2,000 consultations a year with "families in distress" who want to talk with an ethicist "about the church's teaching in light of their (family) situation."

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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