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Brain-dead pregnant woman's husband names fetus

Brain Dead Pregnancy
DALLAS (AP) - The husband of a pregnant, brain-dead Texas woman who was taken off life support over the weekend named what would have been the couple's second child before his wife was removed from machines.

Erick Munoz said Monday that he named the 23-week-old fetus Nicole, which was his late wife's middle name. Munoz would not say why he chose to name the fetus.

Munoz said doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth indicated to him that the fetus would likely have been a girl, though his attorneys previously said the fetus suffered from lower body deformation that made it impossible to determine a gender.

"They think it was a female," Munoz said in a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Both the hospital, which initially refused to disconnect Marlise Munoz, and his attorneys agreed the fetus could not have been born alive that early in the pregnancy.

The fetus was not delivered when John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth complied Sunday with a judge's order to pull any life-sustaining treatment from Munoz. She was declared brain-dead in November, but the hospital had kept her on machines for the sake of the fetus.

The case had inspired debates about abortion and end-of-life decisions, as well as whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus, per Texas law. Anti-abortion activists attended Friday's court hearing and spoke out in favor of trying to deliver the fetus.

Munoz's attorneys, Heather King and Jessica Hall Janicek, issued a statement last week describing the condition of the fetus based on medical records they received from the hospital.

"According to the medical records we have been provided, the fetus is distinctly abnormal," the attorneys said. "Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined."

The attorneys said the fetus also had fluid building up inside the skull and possibly had a heart problem.

Erick Munoz told the AP in an earlier interview that he believed in God but felt his training as a paramedic suggested the fetus would have been seriously harmed by his wife's condition.

Whether the case leads Texas to change the law remains unclear. In recent years, the Legislature has enacted several new anti-abortion restrictions, including setting the legal guideline for when a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks - a milestone Marlise Munoz's fetus passed about three weeks ago.

Erick Munoz sued the hospital because it would not remove life support. Marlise Munoz was also a paramedic familiar with end-of-life issues, and Erick Munoz said his wife had told him she would not want to be kept alive under such circumstances.

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

Legal experts told the AP that the hospital was misreading the Texas Advance Directives Act and that the law isn't an absolute command to keep a pregnant woman on life support.

Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. sided Friday with Erick Munoz, saying in his order: "Mrs. Munoz is dead."

Erick Munoz found his wife unconscious in their Haltom City home on Nov. 26, possibly due to a blood clot. Doctors soon determined that she was brain-dead, which meant she was both medically and legally dead, but kept her on machines to keep her organs functioning for the sake of the fetus.

The case has been noted by Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the two leading candidates running to replace him, but none has called for any new laws or action yet.

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, through a spokesman, said the case was a "heartbreaking tragedy" and that "Texas strives to protect both families and human life, and we will continue to work toward that end."

Texas Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat from Fort Worth, said through a spokeswoman that any decision like this "should be made by Mrs. Munoz's family, in consultation with her doctors."

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Chris January 28 2014 at 12:16 AM

Judge not ....

Flag Reply +9 rate up
1 reply
Denise Chris January 28 2014 at 12:36 AM

no one is judging. Facts are just being said!

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2 replies
TheAOLExperience Denise January 28 2014 at 12:59 AM

Denise, what part of non-viable, not survive outside the womb, do you not understand? At 23 weeks, the fetus would not survive outside it's dead mother's womb. Additionally, medical showed the fetus had severe deformaties. Here's something else for you to mull over; the shocks the mother endured from the emergency personnells' efforts to revive her, were also endured by the fetus. Of course, your rabid, pro-birth dogma is incapable of conceiving of any of this, is it?

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ratnberg Denise January 28 2014 at 1:10 AM

The only facts you believe in are the ones you want to believe. The baby was deformed and it's life was not viable FACT. It's lower portion was so deformed that a sex could not be determined. FACT. It had heart problems and problems with it's skull FACT. Only a cruel heartless person would want such a child to be born to suffer and die in agony of the cold and unfamiliar world instead of the tender comfort and warmth of it's mother's womb.

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Marie January 28 2014 at 10:20 AM

You never know what you would do unless you were in their shoes.
I say God Bless both the Father and the Mother, that unborn child is in heaven.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
hey January 28 2014 at 10:17 AM

the killing of a baby sickins me, but there is times it is worst to keep a child alive. if i was the wife i would not want to be kept alive either. will they do a autopsy to see if the child was badly damaged?

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1 reply
Kathy hey January 28 2014 at 10:48 AM

They do not need an autopsy to determine this. The lower part of the baby's body was so deformed they could not tell for sure whether it was a boy or a girl.

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1 reply
Diane Kathy January 28 2014 at 2:26 PM

Why then, did he give her a girls name?

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lisa January 28 2014 at 1:33 AM

The mother and her child are together in heaven. They are at peace now. My prayers go out to the families.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
EVELYN January 28 2014 at 1:35 AM

God be with this family. My heart goes out to you. May Marlise and baby Nicole rest in peace.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
Pooh January 28 2014 at 10:11 AM

So sorry for your loss. Nothing can replace loved ones.. God speed...

Flag Reply +8 rate up
Los Art Works January 28 2014 at 2:08 AM

I am pro life whenever possible, but clearly think this was for the best given the severe issues with the fetus. Now all involved can mourn and remember the good and hopefully move on as best they can. It will get better in time.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
VIPRLARES January 28 2014 at 10:00 AM

Texas Politics always think they are correct, what a shame to put this family through so much hell.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
FunnyFace January 28 2014 at 9:50 AM

It was said she had a directive, if so it should have been honored or why make it so important if not?My Mother had a DNR-DNI which was not honored, the whole situation was so stressful .I have directives and wonder what good they will be if my husband and family are excluded from the
final decision. The fetus was not and never was viable, a sad situation when some one takes
your rights away. God Bless the family and the little Angel and Mommy now in God's gentle care.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
tadabass FunnyFace January 28 2014 at 11:14 AM

She didnt have a directive, Her husband said she told him verbally. That doesnt carry the weight of a directive, Especially with her being a paramedic. She must have known the importance of an advance directive.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
zmaspro January 28 2014 at 1:08 AM

There will be much said about this tragic situation. Where do you people get - murder? The fetus (until it is born and becomes a living body) was being kept alive through the efforts to keep the mother alive. Keep her alive until the baby is born? Then what? Years ago we would not have had this delimina because we were not in advanced medical help/techniques. God would have taken care of things. You don't believe in God? That is your choice. I am sure that everyone felt they were doing their best - so now - let it go. May Mrs. Munoz and "child" rest in peace. I don't need any return comments - I am just stating my personal feelings. Thank you.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
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