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Lawyers say fetus carried by brain-dead mom 'distinctly abnormal'

Jan. 23, 2014 at 4:38 PM

FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The fetus of a pregnant Texas woman who has been on life support for two months is "distinctly abnormal," attorneys for her family say.

Erick Munoz, the woman's husband, and other members of her family have been prevented by Texas law from removing her from life support, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Wednesday.

The lower extremities of the 22-week-old fetus are deformed, it has hydrocephalus (water on the brain), and it is impossible to determine its gender, the attorneys said in an emailed statement. It also may have heart problems "that cannot be specifically determined due to the immobile nature of Mrs. Munoz's deceased body," the attorneys added.

Marlise Munoz, 33, collapsed Nov. 26 when she was 14 weeks pregnant. Doctors at a Fort Worth trauma center said she was brain dead.

As a result of the woman's collapse, the attorneys said, the fetus was deprived of oxygen for an indefinite period of time.

Hospital officials refused the family's request to take Munoz off life support, saying state law requires a woman to stay on life support until the fetus is viable, usually at 24 to 26 weeks.

District Judge R.H. Wallace is scheduled to hear arguments Friday.

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