The High Court in Ireland issued a ruling today allowing a hospital to shut off life support for a pregnant mom, which would claim the life of her 18-week-old unborn baby.
The mother is in her twenties, 18-weeks pregnant and doctors had decided to keep her on life support to give her unborn child a chance at life after she suffered a traumatic brain injury on November 29 after a fall. The woman’s parents wanted her to be taken off life support immediately and they took 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. Today, it received that ruling.
The High Court ruled that life support could be switched off even tough it heard evidence that the unborn baby is still alive and has a heartbeat.
The three-judge panel, comprising president of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, Ms Justice Marie Baker and Ms Justice Caroline Costello issued the 29-page decision. They ruled that continuing with life support was a ‘distressing exercise in futility’.
Ironically, the High Court issued the ruling terminating the unborn baby’s life by saying it was in the best interest of the child.
“The court is satisfied, in the circumstances of this case, that in the best interest of the unborn child, it should authorise at the discretion of the medical team the withdrawal of ongoing somatic support being provided in this tragic and unfortunate case,” it wrote. “‘It will accordingly make a declaration and order to that effect.”
The baby’s legal team announced that it will not be appealing the decision to the Ireland Supreme Court. That means the hospital is free to move ahead to shut off the life support and take the life of the unborn child.
The court claimed that the pregnancy could not be supported further to the point where the baby would be born.
Yet, just this month, a baby was born in Hungary after another very rare circumstance in which his brain-dead mother was kept alive for three months so he could be born. The mother remained on life support longer than would be necessary in the Irish situation.
In the case in Hungary, 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.
And in a huge case earlier this year in the United States, a son has been born in a case where a husband had been raising funds to cover his “brain dead” pregnant wife’s medical bills so his unborn son could be born.
Robyn Benson was 22 weeks pregnant when she suffered from a brain hemorrhage. Her husband, Dylan, went out to get some medicine for her headache and, when he returned, Robyn was unconscious on their bathroom floor, but still breathing. Although medical professionals made attempts to revive her, doctors discovered blood had leaked in to Robyn’s brain and they told Dylan Robyn would never recover.
However, doctors had kept Robyn alive for weeks so Dylan’s son, Iver Cohen Benson (right), could be born.
“On Saturday evening, my beautiful and amazing son, Iver Cohen Benson, was born,” Dyanlan wrote. “Iver is healthy and is the cutest and most precious person I have ever met. As to be expected, it will still be a bumpy ride for he and I as he continues to grow under the care of the wonderful staff at the hospital.”
In response to today’s High Court decision in the case of the young pregnant woman on life support, the Pro Life Campaign said that while this is an extremely tragic case, similar situations arise in other countries as well and there has to be a means of determining the best outcome for all concerned.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family at the centre of this tragic case. While it is very difficult for the families concerned that cases like this sometimes end up in court, the fact is that it is a sign of a healthy democracy that life and death issues are taken seriously and appropriately determined.In countries where there is no protection for the unborn, disagreements sometimes emerge that have to be adjudicated on. There is nothing unique to Ireland about this case as some would try to suggest. It is crass and unseemly the way some people are using this sad case to push for repeal of the Eighth Amendment, which offers the only remaining legal protection for the unborn in Ireland.”
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.