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Family of Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman Now Fighting to Change State Law

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — A fam­ily that had to go to court to get a brain-dead woman taken off life sup­port is now fight­ing to change Texas law so other fam­i­lies won’t have to go through the same ordeal.

The fam­ily of Marlise Munoz is work­ing with Texas law­mak­ers to craft a new bill that could make it eas­ier for fam­i­lies to have end-of-life deci­sions in regards to a preg­nant woman, accord­ing to a new doc­u­men­tary in pro­duc­tion cur­rently titled, The Preg­nancy Exclu­sion.

I just don’t think the gov­ern­ment can make this deci­sion for any­body,” Munoz’s hus­band, Eric Munoz, says in a clip from the upcom­ing film.

Eric Munoz did not imme­di­ately respond to a request for fur­ther com­ment made through the film producers.

The case of Marlise Munoz made inter­na­tional head­lines after the 33-year-old preg­nant para­medic was declared brain dead. While Munoz’s fam­ily wanted her taken off life sup­port, a Fort Worth, Texas, hos­pi­tal refused after cit­ing a little-known state law that pro­hib­ited remov­ing “life-sustaining” treat­ment for a preg­nant patient.

The fam­ily even­tu­ally won the case in Jan­u­ary 2014 after a judge ruled the law did not apply to Munoz because she was already deceased.

The Preg­nancy Exclu­sion, fol­lows the fam­ily as they fig­ure out how to nav­i­gate the state leg­is­la­ture sys­tem in the hopes they can change the law itself.

Eric Munoz talks in the film about what it was like to see his wife put on life sup­port after being declared brain dead.

You have a body there and you try to respect it and talk to it, but then at the same time you’re like she’s passed away, she’s dead,” he says in a clip that has been made avail­able in advance. “So you talk in your head like she can lis­ten to you in Heaven.”

Munoz said at some point he could tell his wife was dete­ri­o­rat­ing under life support.

Her hands went from being pli­able to being very rigid, very stiff,” he said. “You’re see­ing a body slowly deteriorate.”

Munoz, along with his parents-in-law, faced inter­na­tional scrutiny as both pro– and anti-abortion advo­cates took on the case.

You hear peo­ple say, ‘You’re a mon­ster to you’re going to hell,’” Eric Munoz says in a film clip. “‘Why isn’t he think­ing about the baby?’ …[Peo­ple] lit­er­ally accused me of murder.”

The fight over how the law per­ceives the rights of inca­pac­i­tated preg­nant women is likely to con­tinue for some time. Last month, a Repub­li­can state law­maker intro­duced a bill that would make it ille­gal to stop life-sustaining treat­ment for a preg­nant woman even if there is “irre­versible ces­sa­tion of all spon­ta­neous brain function.”

Rebecca Haimowitz, direc­tor of The Preg­nancy Exclu­sion, said the fam­ily is prepar­ing to tes­tify against that bill once it is brought up in a hearing.

The fam­ily has gone on this jour­ney from their own per­sonal tragedy and to activism,” said Haimowitz. “They cer­tainly didn’t ask for it.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Your Gluten-Free Diet May Be a Tax Write-Off

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Cut­ting bread from your diet could poten­tially save you some bread on your taxes, finan­cial experts say.

While diet gurus debate the health mer­its for the aver­age per­son of avoid­ing the gluten pro­tein found in wheat, rye and bar­ley grains, no one dis­putes the extra cost. On aver­age, the gluten-free ver­sions of many foods were 242 per­cent pricier than the reg­u­lar prod­ucts in one National Insti­tutes of Health study.

But Mark Lus­combe, a prin­ci­pal fed­eral tax ana­lyst for the tax pub­lisher CCH, said some of the addi­tional expense of going gluten-free may be a legit­i­mate tax write-off.

If you have a rec­og­nized dis­ease where gluten-free foods help man­age the con­di­tion and you have a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from your doc­tor, you may be able to take a deduc­tion,” Lus­combe said.

This could be good news for the 1 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion with celiac dis­ease, a diag­nosed intol­er­ance to gluten that causes severe gas­troin­testi­nal symp­toms and increases the risk of some can­cers. They should be able to write off the extra cost of buy­ing gluten-free items plus the cost of ship­ping if they buy them online. Foods that con­tain xan­than gum and sorghum flour can be fully deducted because they have no gluten-filled alternative.

As for the other 30 per­cent of Amer­i­cans who, accord­ing to the con­sumer research group NDP, avoid gluten because they believe they have some sort of insen­si­tiv­ity to it? Lus­combe said he doubted such a write-off would fly.

Even some­one with celiac will have to work hard for the tax break, Lus­combe said. They will need a note from their doc­tor and they will have to keep metic­u­lous track of how much more they spend on gluten-free prod­ucts than on other sim­i­lar prod­ucts, he added.

That means sav­ing all receipts and mak­ing notes of price dif­fer­ences. In addi­tion, to get any deduc­tion, all med­ical expenses must exceed 10 per­cent of gross adjusted income or 7.5 per­cent for peo­ple older than 65, Lus­combe said.

For those who can clear all those hur­dles, using med­ically sanc­tioned dietary restric­tions as a tax write off does have the sup­port of the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice, Lus­combe said. IRS Infor­ma­tion Let­ter 2011–0035 states: “The excess cost of spe­cially pre­pared foods designed to treat a med­ical con­di­tion over the cost of ordi­nary foods which would have been con­sumed but for the con­di­tion is an expense for med­ical care.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Flat Shoes Linked to Women's Foot Problems

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For many women, sen­si­ble, com­fort­able flats are a wardrobe staple.

Despite the shoes’ pop­u­lar­ity, how­ever, some experts have a warn­ing. They say some types of flats can lead to a host of poten­tial health prob­lems, includ­ing toe infec­tion, that could even require surgery.

The dam­age is caused when tight, pointy-toed flats put pres­sure on toe­nails, caus­ing them to bend and become ingrown. In some cases, if the sit­u­a­tion is left untreated it could lead to bone infection.

It hap­pened to 17-year-old Han­nah But­ler. The Illi­nois teen had to resort to surgery to remove an ingrown toe­nail caused by repeated use of the wrong flats.

I brought my shoes in to my doctor…he fig­ured that that was caus­ing the mul­ti­ple ingrown toe­nails,” she said.

Experts say the prob­lem hap­pens because most women are unaware of what some flats are really doing to their feet.

It’s funny because so many women think they’re bet­ter off wear­ing flats than heels but in reality…flats can be worse than heels 100 times over,” Dr. Mar­lene Reid, a podi­a­trist and spokes­woman for the Amer­i­can Podi­atric Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion, said.

But you don’t have to get rid of flats alto­gether from your wardrobe. Experts say you should wear flats with rounded or squared-shapes toes. It gives toes wig­gle room and alle­vi­ates pres­sure on the big toe.

Reid said there are many dif­fer­ent styles of flat shoes available.

Flats come in all dif­fer­ent styles, all dif­fer­ent types, all dif­fer­ent con­struc­tion,” Reid said. “There are flats that are more flimsy than what we con­sider reg­u­lar flats.”

You have to look at the shoe itself to deter­mine if it’s the right shoe for you,” she said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Everybody's Gone Biking USA

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Believe it or not, pretty soon it’ll be nice enough in most areas of the coun­try to get out­side and do things that don’t involve shiv­er­ing and shoveling.

One of America’s favorite out­door pas­times, accord­ing to a study com­mis­sioned for the non­profit Peo­ple­For­Bikes, hap­pens to be bicycling.

Con­trary to other reports that indi­cated par­tic­i­pa­tion is far lower, Peo­ple­For­Bikes says that just over a third of Amer­i­cans ages three and up rode a bike at least once last year.

Peo­ple­For­Bikes’ Pres­i­dent Tim Blu­men­thal says its U.S. Bicy­cling Par­tic­i­pa­tion Bench­mark­ing Report is com­pre­hen­sive whereas other stud­ies seem to focus on sin­gle aspects of bicy­cling. Blu­men­thal says his study cov­ers recre­ational bik­ing, trans­porta­tion rid­ing and other uses for bikes.

But even though 57 per­cent of peo­ple who biked in 2014 did so for recre­ation, the study found that 48 per­cent of Amer­i­cans don’t have access to bikes and 52 per­cent are con­cerned about the dan­ger of get­ting into an acci­dent with a vehicle.

How­ever, Blu­men­thal says he sees plenty of poten­tial in reach­ing mil­lions of peo­ple who oth­er­wise might not think bik­ing is in their spring and sum­mer plans.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Doctors Delivering Bad News Seen as Lacking Compassion

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — A sign that reads “Don’t shoot the mes­sen­ger” should be hung on the wall of your doctor’s office along with his or her diplomas.

After all, deliv­er­ing a par­tic­u­larly upset­ting diag­no­sis shouldn’t be blamed on your physi­cian although some patients seem to think otherwise.

In a study from the Uni­ver­sity of Texas MD Ander­son Can­cer Cen­ter in Hous­ton, Dr. Eduardo Bruera says that the bearer of bad news, in this case a doc­tor, is often viewed as less com­pas­sion­ate than one who has a more pos­i­tive diagnosis.

Bruera had 100 can­cer patients view a video in which a doc­tor told some­one that he had run out of options to treat the dis­ease and another in which some treat­ment options were avail­able. Over­all, the doc­tor with the bet­ter news was viewed as more com­pas­sion­ate than the other doctor.

Mean­while, 57 patients said they’d per­son­ally rather hear their doc­tor present more opti­mistic news com­pared to 22 patients who felt it was bet­ter to get the worst case scenario.

Bruera said his find­ings might explain why physi­cians tend to be hes­i­tant about deliv­er­ing bad news even when they try to do so in an empathic way.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Even a Good Dog Doesn't Have Much of a Good Memory

iStock/Thinkstock(STOCKHOLM) — Your dog might be a good boy but boy, don’t count on him to remem­ber too much.

That’s the advice from Stock­holm Uni­ver­sity and Brook­lyn Col­lege researchers who con­ducted mem­ory exper­i­ments on var­i­ous ani­mals as well as birds and insects and yes, peo­ple too.

Over­all, the aver­age mem­ory for all ani­mals is around 27 sec­onds. Sur­pris­ingly, the mem­ory of chimps only lasted 20 sec­onds, worse than that of rats. Humans were the best, thank­fully, remem­ber­ing stim­u­lus from two days earlier.

As for dogs, the best they could do was remem­ber an event from two min­utes ear­lier, which was at the high end. Dogs actu­ally are very good when it comes to spe­cial­ized mem­o­ries, such as where you hid a treat or toy.

How­ever, don’t expect them to remem­ber a visit to the park. They just don’t have the capac­ity to recall events, which may be a bless­ing in dis­guise if you got chased out of the park for not keep­ing your mutt on a leash.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Sad Movies Can Compel Mindless Snacking

iStock/Thinkstock(ITHACA, N.Y.) — If you enjoy movies that bring a tear to your eye, you also enjoy eat­ing. Or per­haps, you don’t real­ize you’re stuff­ing your face more while watch­ing sad films as opposed to comedies.

In a Cor­nell Food and Brand Lab study of movies watched over last Thanks­giv­ing, peo­ple con­sumed 28 per­cent more pop­corn while watch­ing the old tear­jerker Love Story than the com­edy Sweet Home Alabama.

That par­tic­u­lar study was con­ducted in a lab. Researchers also went dump­ster div­ing out­side movie the­aters in seven cities where they gath­ered both emp­tied pop­corn boxes and dis­carded pop­corn and again dis­cov­ered that 55 per­cent more pop­corn was eaten dur­ing a sad movie as opposed to the com­edy, My Big Fat Greek Wed­ding.

How does lead researcher Brian Wansink explain this phe­nom­e­non? His the­ory is that eat­ing can be trig­gered by emo­tion and peo­ple will eat more to com­pen­sate for sad­ness. It doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be junk food either. Peo­ple will also chow down on veg­gies and fruits if they’re around.

There­fore, if you are wor­ried about mind­less eat­ing, Wansink rec­om­mends, “Keep snacks out of arms reach, ide­ally leave them in the kitchen and only bring to the couch what you intend to eat.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Mom With Terminal Cancer Blogs Fight for Her Life

WCIV-TV(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — New mom Whit­ney Cox’s doc­tors may have put an expi­ra­tion date on her life, but she’s deter­mined to beat their expec­ta­tions and inspire oth­ers with her new, and pop­u­lar, blog.

The 27-year-old mother of two was diag­nosed with stage IV can­cer shortly after the hol­i­days. At first, doc­tors thought it was lym­phoma, which would have been cur­able. But they soon learned they didn’t know where the can­cer orig­i­nated, and it was aggres­sive, she wrote.

They gave her six months to live with­out treat­ment, she wrote on her blog. If she under­went chemother­apy, she could have five years.

I was doing the math in my head about how old they [her chil­dren] would be when I was sup­posed to die and I just — it broke my heart,” she told ABC News Charleston, South Car­olina, affil­i­ate WCIV-TV.

Her daugh­ter is 6 and her son is 6 months old. WCIV-TV was there when pho­tog­ra­phers snapped their first offi­cial fam­ily por­trait as a fam­ily of four. Cox said she was hop­ing to do it before her hair fell out, but she was bald and beau­ti­ful for the cameras.

Since Cox started her blog a week ago, more than 12,000 peo­ple have viewed the posts about her jour­ney with stage IV can­cer. She writes that she hopes to renew oth­ers’ faith in God through her expe­ri­ence and that she’s pray­ing for a miracle.

I want peo­ple to real­ize how pre­cious life is and how quickly it can be taken away from us,” she wrote in a post. “I want them to value their time on this earth with their fam­i­lies. I want them to hug their chil­dren a lit­tle tighter. I want them to believe in mir­a­cles, because I will get my miracle.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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