In a ruling that may upset anti-abortion campaigners in Ireland, the Irish High Court on Friday allowed the doctors to turn off life support system that was keeping a brain-dead pregnant woman alive after the legal representatives of the woman’s medical team confirmed that her fetus had a very grim chance of survival.
The unusual case has once again ignited a rigorous debate over the legal aspect of abortion in the Catholic country.
The pregnant woman was declared clinically dead or brain dead on December 3 this year after she damaged her head very badly in a serious fall. Even thought the woman’s family pleaded before the doctors, who were treating her, to turn off her life support machine, but the medical team turned down the request on fears of getting sued for negligence or even slapped with the murder charges for depriving the woman’s unborn fetus of life support.
The name of the woman has not been revealed in order to protect her privacy.
The legal representatives of the medical team, who are supervising the brain dead woman, submitted before the court that the continuation of life support was futile as the 18-week fetus that she was carrying in her womb would not survive due to the deteriorating state of her body.
After hearing the submission, the court allowed discontinuation of life support machine to her.
In its ruling, the court said, “While the unborn child is not yet in distress, it is facing into a ‘perfect storm’ from which it has no realistic prospect of emerging alive. It has nothing but distress and death in prospect.”
The High Court said that the unusual case has raised issues of “great public importance” in the country that supports stricter abortion laws.