Three High Court judges in Dublin have ruled that doctors may switch off a life support machine that has been keeping a brain dead pregnant woman alive.
In what the justices described as a “tragic and unfortunate case”, doctors treating the 26 year old woman refused to switch off the life support machine fearing that they maybe fall foul of Ireland’s strict abortion laws, which afford the 18 week old fetus the same constitutional rights as the mother as that of a citizen.
Lawyers representing the unborn child had told the court that it must be satisfied that there was no real possibility of the fetus surviving before allowing the machine to be turned off.
The court agreed with the medical evidence that it was unlikely that the fetus would be viable. The judges observered that “The condition of the mother is failing at such a rate and to such a degree that it will not be possible for the pregnancy to progress much further or to a point where any form of live birth will be possible”
It is understood that the woman’s father filed a suit against the Irish health authorities, following the unnamed woman suffering a catastrophic head injury after she sustained a fall on 29 November.