Doctors in Ireland end breathing support for clinically dead pregnant woman

Story highlights

  • Doctors in Ireland remove breathing support from a pregnant woman
  • She had been declared clinically dead December 3 after a brain injury
  • Doctors kept her breathing over concern for the rights of the unborn under Irish law

(CNN)The artificial breathing support for a clinically dead woman who is 18 weeks pregnant has been switched off by the Irish hospital treating her, an official with detail knowledge of the case said Saturday.

Ireland's High Court ruled Friday that doctors can withdraw the artificial breathing support as there is "no reasonable prospect" her unborn child will survive.
    The 26-year-old woman was pronounced clinically dead on December 3 after suffering serious brain trauma.
    Prior to the High Court ruling, doctors had refused to turn off the machine providing artificial breathing support out of concern for the rights of the unborn child.
    Under Ireland's constitution, the unborn have the same right to life as the mother. Abortion is illegal except in cases where the mother's life is at "real and substantial risk" due to medical complications or the threat of suicide.
    The court said in its ruling that this was a "tragic and unfortunate case," and that medical experts showed no medical or ethical basis to continue "with a process described as verging on the grotesque."
    The woman had two children ages 6 and 4 years and was engaged.
    Ireland's Pro Life Campaign also called the case tragic, but said the court proceedings were necessary.
    "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," the group's Ruth Cullen said in the statement.