Court Rules Brain-Dead Woman’s Life Support Can Be Shut Down

The BBC reports on a recent legal battle over an end-of-life situation in Ireland:

A judge in Dublin’s High Court has ruled that a life-support machine may be switched off in the case of a brain-dead woman who is 18 weeks pregnant.

The woman’s family had wanted her life-support machine to be turned off.

Doctors had not granted their wishes as they were unsure of the legal status of the unborn child under the constitution in the Republic of Ireland.

The woman in the case was declared brain-dead on 3 December.

The court had heard that the chances of her unborn child being born alive were small. …

Lawyers for the unborn child had told the court that it must be satisfied that there was no real possibility of the foetus surviving before allowing the machine to be turned off.

Lawyers for the Health Service Executive (HSE), the body which runs all public health services in the Republic of Ireland, had argued that it would be lawful to withdraw life-support in this case.

The woman is in her late 20s and has two other children.

The judge ruled that to “maintain and continue” support would “deprive her of her dignity in death”:

“It would subject her father, her partner and her young children to unimaginable distress in a futile exercise which commenced only because of fears held by treating medical specialists of potential legal consequences,” he said.

You can read the full article here.