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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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Corey January 28 2014 at 6:37 PM

Ummm! She was a baby not a "fetus". All you pro-abortion news writers keep trying to dehumanize life. The father did the right thing naming his little girl!

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jhmc January 28 2014 at 4:30 PM

The Catholic Church would say this was wrong and to let her carry the fetus to term, despite the fact that it was severely defromed. I think Mr. Munoz made the right decision and a very hard one, at that.

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thunderboatsuzy January 28 2014 at 3:46 PM

who are they to say end the babies life, who the heck gives the husband the right either to end the babies life,the mother would,nt have wanted that, they all play god, was any of the babies organs etc,,sold to the doctors for their next victims,,doctors in hospitals are liars and sell body parts when they say a life is no longer good follow the fetus.someone using something from it !

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rfeefee January 28 2014 at 3:46 PM

It would had been the right choice for the father to make, its his family, and he has another little one to worry about here. has anyone even mentioned her?? what happened to this child, everyone is so wrapped up in this drama we have so forgotten about this little one. imagine how she feels sitting on the side lines. The best thing would had been to pull the plug right away because now we do not know if that baby suffered inside her for that couple of weeks before it to died, or who really knows what it was feeling. it should had been ended and put to rest and then the lives to be focused on healing and the little one that is still here with s and healthy and needs more love than ever now....

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edie1a January 28 2014 at 2:58 PM

Just ask any of the Doctors, Gov. Perry, or any other elected official if that was their wife, just what exactly would they have done. They would never have allowed their wife to be placed on life support to begin with - with them and the anti-abortionists, it is "do as I say, not as I do".
This was a tragedy that was made much worse by the hospital.

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1 reply to edie1a's comment
parlorcatjeana January 28 2014 at 3:00 PM

sadly the hospital hands were tied by the Texas law

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lilstarbaby578 January 28 2014 at 2:53 PM

wow im so sorry and more of witch the hospital keeping ur wife alive by machines the pain witch you must of felt ....me my self i dont belive in abortions ...but every circumstances are diffrent...

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lmen579 January 28 2014 at 2:50 PM

I am so sure God was waiting for both of them...
May they both watch over all the ones that loved them and guide them through this saddness.
Keep the family in your prayers and thoughts..... and pray to god that you will never have to endure something like this.

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Pat January 28 2014 at 2:40 PM

If naming it felt right to him,then it was right. Friends of mine named their daughter who only survived a few hours, saying it made her feel more real to them,even though they never actually got to know her.

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pauntp January 28 2014 at 2:39 PM

After reading through many of these comments, I am worried for the father. I wouldn't be surprised if he got threats from some of the unstable people out there if he hasn't already.

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bgweddings January 28 2014 at 2:36 PM

May the both Rest in Peace.

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