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Irish Court OKs Turning Off Life Support For Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman

The High Court in Ireland ruled today that a pregnant, brain-dead woman's life support can be turned off.

The unnamed woman's parents and her partner had both wanted life support to be removed.

Doctors had told the court's three judges that the 18-week fetus' chances of survival were low. There have been two similar cases in Ireland since 2001; both fetuses died in the womb.

As we previously told you, the woman suffered a major brain trauma on Nov. 29 and was declared brain dead on Dec. 3. But lawyers for the medical facility said they were afraid of turning off life support because of lawsuits. Ireland is a predominantly Roman Catholic country and its Constitution grants equal rights to a woman and her unborn child.

But the woman's condition was getting worse; her brain was rotting and she had infections, doctors told the court.

The Irish Times reported that today's decision won't be appealed to the country's Supreme Court because "lawyers representing the interests of this particular unborn felt its interests had been fully considered."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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