A US judge has ordered a Texas hospital to remove life support for a pregnant, brain-dead woman.
The judge issued the ruling in the case of Marlise Munoz, who is being kept alive in a hospital in Fort Worth against her family’s wishes.
The judge gave the hospital until late Monday afternoon to remove life support.
The case has raised questions about end-of-life care and whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a foetus.
It also has caught the attention of both sides of the abortion debate, with anti-abortion groups arguing Munoz’s foetus deserves a chance to be born.
Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when her husband found her unconscious on November 26, possibly due to a blood clot.
Erick Munoz says he and his wife are paramedics who were clear about not wanting life support in this type of situation.
His lawyer argued that keeping the woman alive would set a dangerous precedent for similar cases in the future.
John Peter Smith Hospital maintained it had to protect the life of the unborn child.
Hospital officials said they were bound by a state law prohibiting withdrawal of treatment from a pregnant patient.
Several experts interviewed by The Associated Press have said the hospital was misapplying the law.
Earlier this week, Erick Munoz’s lawyers said the foetus, now believed to be at about 22 weeks’ gestation, is “distinctly abnormal”.
The lawyers said they based that statement on medical records they received from the hospital.
The local district attorney’s office, which is representing the hospital in the lawsuit, said the hospital was expected to issue a statement later on Friday in response to the ruling.