Police Open Investigation After Woman in Vegetative State For Over a Decade Gives Birth

Screenshot: CBS News

A patient in a vegetative state at a nursing facility in Arizona gave birth on December 29, CBS News reports. Phoenix police are currently investigating the incident as a possible sexual abuse case.

A source familiar to the situation, who asked to remain anonymous, told local CBS-affiliate KPHO that none of the staff at the Hacienda HealthCare facility knew the patient was pregnant until she went into labor and began moaning. A nurse reportedly delivered the baby, who the source says was born healthy.

The KPHO reporter seemed to ask the source in a roundabout way about whether the patient was sexually assaulted, and the source definitively answered that there is no way the patient, who has been in a vegetative state for over a decade following a near-drowning incident, could have “defend[ed]” herself from being impregnated. Per KPHO:

“She had no way to defend herself in this sort of situation?” asked [reporter Briana] Whitney.

“No. None whatsoever. Not even able to communicate the fact that she was pregnant,” she said.

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Hacienda HealthCare declined to comment on the case, citing federal and state privacy laws and ongoing investigations, through a statement. “We can say that our patients and clients health and safety is our #1 priority and that we always cooperate, when asked by any agency, in an open and transparent way,” the statement reads.

The Arizona Department of Health Service said in a statement that it “immediately initiated an onsite complaint investigation” after learning of the incident and says the agency is cooperating with law enforcement. The Arizona Department of Economic Security also released a statement saying it “dispatched a team to conduct health and safety checks” at the Hacienda HealthCare facility.

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According to KPHO’s source, the facility has allegedly upped its security protocols following the delivery; now “if a male staff needs to enter a female room, they need to bring in a female employee with them,” she says.

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