Attorneys: Brain Dead Woman’s Fetus Is ‘Distinctly Abnormal’

Marlise Munoz has been kept alive against her family's wishes.

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A fetus being carried by a brain dead Texas woman against her family’s wishes is so “distinctly abnormal” that the sex cannot even be determined, her husband’s attorneys said Wednesday.

Marlise Munoz, 33, suffered a pulmonary embolism in late November and doctors say she has no brain activity. Although Erick Munoz says his wife wanted to be pulled from life support in the event of brain death, doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital in Forth Worth refused to do so after finding out that the unconscious woman was 14 weeks pregnant. Doctors cited a Texas law mandating pregnant women stay on life support until their fetus is viable, typically at 24 to 26 weeks.

But now Erick Munoz’s attorneys, who will go to court Friday to challenge the constitutionality of this law, are questioning if the 22-week old fetus would be viable even if it did come to term.

“Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined,” said attorneys Heather King and Jessica Hall Janicek in a statement. Gender can typically be determined between 18 and 20 weeks.

The lawyers also said the unborn fetus has fluid buildup inside the skull and possible heart problems. “Quite sadly, this information is not surprising due to the fact that the fetus, after being deprived of oxygen for an indeterminate length of time, is gestating within a dead and deteriorating body, as a horrified family looks on in absolute anguish, distress and sadness,” said the statement.

The Tarrant County DA’s office, representing the hospital, declined to comment to the AP.