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Pregnancy in women in vegetative states is rare, but not unprecedented

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By Elizabeth Chuck

The disturbing case of an Arizona woman who gave birth despite being in a vegetative state for more than a decade is not the first of its kind, experts told NBC News.

The 29-year-old woman gave birth in December while receiving long-term care at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix after an almost drowning incident. The authorities do not know who impregnated her and have opened an investigation of sexual assault in search of her rapist.

The case echoes one from 1995, when a nursing assistant raped a 29-year-old comatose woman in her nursing home near Rochester, New York. The staff discovered that she was pregnant from the beginning, a key difference between her and the Arizona woman.

Jeffrey Spike, a faculty member affiliated with the Center for Ethics and Biomedical Humanities at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, served as an ethics consultant for the New York women's hospital and spoke with her parents about whether They wanted to interrupt the pregnancy. They decided not to do so, and the woman gave birth to a premature but healthy child in March 1996, who was raised by her maternal grandmother.

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