High Court of Ireland rules brain-dead pregnant woman can be taken off life support

On Friday a three-judge bench of the High Court of Ireland (Kearns P, Baker & Costello JJ) ruled in PP v Health Service Executive [2014] 10792P that a brain-dead pregnant woman could be taken off life support. The doctors who had treated her were concerned that removing her life support might violate Ireland’s constitutional protection of the unborn child. In a post on Human Rights in Ireland prior to the judgment, Fiona de Londras explained that:

“By granting a constitutionally protected right to life to the unborn foetus, the Constitution has embedded a ‘two patient’ approach that, where the pregnant woman is effectively deceased but the foetus is not, inevitably morphs into a ‘one patient’ approach. This one patient, however, is dependent for life on the body of the deceased woman and thus questions of difficult and harrowing proportions arise.”

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