DALLAS — The pregnant, brain-dead Texas woman being kept on life support over her family's protests is carrying a fetus that is "distinctly abnormal," attorneys for the woman's husband said Wednesday.
Marlise Munoz remains hooked up to machines in a Fort Worth hospital, while her husband and the hospital are locked in a court battle about whether to retain 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 fetus. The case has gotten the attention of groups on either side of the abortion debate.
Erick Munoz said his wife, a fellow paramedic, was clear with him before he found her unconscious on Nov. 26: If she ever fell into this kind of condition, pull life support. But John Peter Smith Hospital says it's bound by state law that prohibits the withdrawal of treatment from a pregnant patient, although several experts interviewed by the Associated Press have said the hospital is misapplying the law.
Munoz's attorneys, Heather King and Jessica Hall Janicek, issued a statement Wednesday describing the condition of the fetus, now believed to be at about 22 weeks' gestation. King and Janicek based their statement 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 has fluid building up inside the skull and possibly has a heart problem.
Spokeswomen for the hospital and the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, which is representing the hospital in the lawsuit, declined to comment Wednesday.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday. Munoz's lawsuit asks a judge to order the hospital to pull life support and return Marlise Munoz's body to her family.