In one of the most shocking cases of apparent sexual abuse in decades, a woman lying in a coma in a Phoenix area long-term care facility has given birth to a baby!
The bizarre incident took place at Hacienda Healthcare facility in Phoenix, Arizona, where the 29-year-old victim has been in a “chronic vegetative state” for “several years.” Since the unusual pregnancy is being investigated as a case of sexual abuse, the woman’s name has not been released.
According to a report on Fox News, “the birth shocked staffers at the facility when they began hearing the comatose woman vocalizing groans and grunts as the birthing process began.” Staffers told police they were completely unaware she was pregnant.
Police Demand DNA Samples
Clearly, the women became pregnant during an act of non-consensual sex. As part of their investigation into how the patient became pregnant, police served a search warrant to get DNA from all male employees at Hacienda.
As word of the shocking birth spread and the police investigation launched, the CEO of the facility, Bill Timmons, has stepped down. A spokesman for Hacienda said Timmons’ decision was unanimously accepted by the board of directors.
The woman, who had been in a vegetative state since a near-drowning, gave birth to a baby boy on Dec. 29. Her identity has not been reported and it is not known if she has a family or a guardian. Phoenix Police surmised that the woman must have been raped by someone working at the facility because they are the only ones with such easy access to her room.
In a statement, board member Gary Orman said Hacienda “will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation.” We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of every single one of our patients and our employees.”
Orman’s statement went on to say that Hacienda HealthCare said it welcomed the DNA testing of employees. “We will continue to cooperate with Phoenix Police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation.”
A source at Hacienda has said that policy has now been changed and male staffers are now required to be accompanied by a female staffer whenever they are working with female patients.
How Could a Woman in a Coma Get Pregnant and Give Birth?
Speaking to CNN with no direct knowledge of this particular woman or case, Dr. Deborah Feldman, director for maternal-fetal medicine at Hartford HealthCare Medical Group, explained that when a person is in a chronic vegetative state, often the major bodily organs retain normal functioning, and regular bodily processes continue, including ovulation and fertility in women.
Feldman said the Arizona case, “speaks to the fact that the patient actually had largely normally functioning organs. I can say that, biologically, her body actually was functioning very well in order to grow a full-term baby.”
“It’s hard to know” whether the woman knew that she was pregnant (or delivering a baby) or whether she experienced pain, Feldman said, without knowing the specifics of the woman’s brain injury.
“I can tell you that to go through labor and deliver a baby with absolutely no analgesic is difficult, but I can’t speculate as to what this patient felt if she felt any pain if she knew it was happening,” Feldman said. “It’s so sad she had to endure that. It’s awful.”
What is clear is that this case shines a spotlight on the kinds of heinous abuse that patients can be subject to in some long-term care facilities.