National Edition

Fetus of brain-dead woman 'not viable,' according to family

Published: Friday, Jan. 24 2014 6:15 p.m. MST

Whatever the scientific studies, groups on both sides of the debate gathered at the Fort Worth hospital Thursday, according to CNN. Those who side with Erick Munoz and the rest of Marlise's family say that it was her wish that she be taken off life support were a situation such as this to arise, while those on the other side believe the baby's life comes first in this argument.

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Erick Munoz and the family of his wife, Marlise Munoz, have tried to take her off life support since the doctors declared her brain-dead back in November, but have failed due to the fact that she was 14 weeks pregnant when it happened. However, they argued in court Friday that the fetus gestating in Marlise is no longer viable and is, in fact, deformed, according to CNN.

After hearing the case, a Texas judge ordered that the woman be taken off life support by 5 p.m. Monday, according to The New York Times.

As it currently stands, the ruling doesn't change the Texas law that a pregnant, brain-dead woman be kept on life support, at least until the baby is born. John Peter Smith Hospital, where the woman is being kept, can appeal the decision before the deadline.

The family's lawyers released a statement Wednesday concerning the abnormality of the fetus, which they say is grounds to disconnect Marlise from the life support.

In the statement, as reported by the Huffington Post, they said that the fetus' lower extremities are so deformed that a sex cannot be determined, there is water building up in the skull and there appears to be a heart problem.

When asked about the statement, hospital representatives refused to comment.

While few scientific studies have been published on the matter, according to the Star-Telegram, one study was released in 2010 that said a person who's been declared brain-dead and is pregnant can give birth to a healthy child some of the time.

The study involved 19 cases of brain-dead women who were also pregnant. Of the 19 women, 13 gave birth by caesarean section, according to NPR.

The team that published the study did note a significant problem with its findings: "The number of reported cases is too small to define the rate at which intensive care support of the brain-dead mother can result in a healthy infant.”

Whatever the scientific studies, groups on both sides of the debate gathered at the Fort Worth hospital Thursday, according to CNN. Those who side with Erick Munoz and the rest of Marlise's family say that it was her wish that she be taken off life support were a situation such as this to arise, while those on the other side believe the baby's life comes first in this argument.

Sam Clemence is an intern for Deseret News, where he works with the opinion section staff and as a reporter for the enterprise team.

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