The High Court in Ireland will decide on Friday whether to allow a hospital to shut off life support for a pregnant mom, which would claim the life of her 17-week-old unborn baby.
The mother is in her twenties, 17-weeks pregnant and doctors have decided to keep her on life support to give her unborn child a chance at life. But there’s one problem: the woman’s parents want her to be taken off life support immediately and they have taken legal action to force the hospital to remove the woman from life support.
The Eighth amendment of the Irish constitution gives equal rights to the unborn and the hospital has said it will not act to destroy the life of the unborn baby unless instructed to do so by the High Court.
Ironically, just this month, a baby has been born in Hungary after a very rare circumstance in which his brain-dead mother was kept alive for three months so he could be born. As LifeNews has previously reported, in a case out of the United States from 2005, this kind of situation has occurred previously but is far from common.
In this case, a baby boy was delivered via Cesarian section to a mother who was declared brain dead in October. The case is not totally unique and another one like it occurred in Hungary in 2013 of a baby born to a mother who was on life support.
Three judges of the High Court will issue a ruling on Friday, however it is possible that this decision could be appealed to the nation’s Supreme Court. The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is in her 20s and is being kept in a hospital outside Dublin, which also cannot named.
In the past, Irish hospitals have kept pregnant women on life support even after brain death in order to attempt to save the life of the unborn child. If ordered, the hospital may keep the woman on life support for a further 17 weeks.
Judge Kearns said: ‘If we could have that evidence, it would enable the court to have sufficient information to be able to make a quick and timely decision.’ He said: ‘Time is of the essence.
‘The longer time passes, it might seem incorrectly to some to foreclose some options. That’s the last thing the court wants. The court is treating this as a matter of some urgency. But at the same time, I am hoping the levels of representation will bring home to people that all four corners are to be consulted and their views are being taken into consideration.’
He added: ‘This is a very sensitive case, and a source of great distress to the family. The court will take it very seriously.’
Conor Dignam SC said he would be representing the interests of the unborn child.
The Pro Life Campaign said the life of the unborn child should not be forgotten in the difficult case of the young pregnant mother being kept on life support in a Midlands hospital and that the woman’s family should be given privacy and respect at this time.
Commenting on the case, Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said: “Our sympathy goes out to the family of the young woman in this tragic case. This is one of these most difficult of situations brought about by modern medicine. Cases like this have arisen elsewhere so it is simplistic when people seek to blame the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution for what is happening. It is the sign of a mature society that the life of the baby in this case is acknowledged and taken into account.
“Modern medicine puts at the disposal of doctors a huge range of extraordinary interventions. But there is never an obligation to employ extraordinary means. Where doctors and family members are coming to decisions in such cases, it is appropriate that the life of the baby should be considered.
“Recent remarks from the legal representative of Ms Y in the High Court that the leaking of information on her case in both print and broadcast media ‘compounded her illness’, underline the need for restraint and respect for the privacy of the family in this latest sad case. As we have seen so often in recent times, cases like this are used by certain lobby groups to push for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment rather than allow a rounded discussion of the real issues involved.”
In 1983, an amendment was added to the Ireland constitution to protect the unborn. The amendment reads: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
On life support for nearly three months in order to facilitate the birth of her child, Susan Torres, in August 2005, gave birth to a baby girl. Susan Anne Catherine Torres was born by Caesarean section two months premature and weighed just one pound and 13 ounces and measured 13.5 inches long.
Torres, a researcher at the American National Institutes of Health, collapsed on May 7 and was rushed to hospital where she was diagnosed with stage four melanoma (cancer) and was declared brain dead, with no hope of recovery.
Hospital physicians discovered the melanoma, treated nine years earlier, had recurred metastasized to her brain. The tumor then hemorrhaged, causing brain death.
A mother of a two year-old son, Torres was 17 weeks pregnant at the time of her collapse. Doctors told her husband, Jason, that there was no hope of survival for his wife, but that they could possibly prevent their baby from dying if she was kept alive.
Justin and Susan’s parents agreed doctors should do everything possible to save the couple’s child.