Georgina Lawton | Contributing Writer | Friday, 19 December 2014

An Irish Woman Is Being Kept Alive On Life Support To Save Her Unborn Foetus

The Debrief: She's being kept alive against her parent's wishes

It's recently emerged that a woman in Dublin is being kept alive on life-support against her parents' wishes, to keep her unborn baby alive. The Irish Independent has reported that a woman in her 20s, who is 16 weeks pregnant, was brought into Beaumont Hospital, Dublin two weeks ago after a catastrophic internal injury caused by a blood clot. Beaumont’s neurosurgeons (who are nationally renowned) were unable to save her but kept her on life support to keep her foetus alive.


The woman was then transferred back to a regional hospital last week where doctors in the foetal department are now believed to be obtaining legal advice on whether they can override her parent’s wishes who have requested that their daughter’s life support machine be switched off. Doctors are citing both the Irish constitution and Irish law in defence of their actions; the constitution states that the lives of unborn children and mothers are equal and the law and state is heavily conditioned by the orders of the Catholic Church. 

A source told the paper that ‘the legal advice would be that there is one life here, and that is the life of the unborn child. There is also a high possibility that the unborn child will not survive’, and it has yet to be seen whether the case will make it to court. The story has emerged just one day after Ireland’s health minister admitted that the recent abortion reforms in the country do not protect women enough. Up until July 2013, terminations in any case were illegal in Ireland and it is only since 1992 that women are no longer criminalised for traveling to England for abortions.  This tragic story has drawn attention once again to Ireland’s draconian laws, reigniting a debate surrounding women’s rights and the 'personhood' of a foetus. It's shocking that such debates are happening in 2014, in Western Europe.

Whatever the outcome, however, our thoughts should be with the family who have lost a daughter and now face a complex battle over the future of their unborn grandchild. 

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Picture: Li Hui

Tags: Ireland