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Court Rules Clinically Dead Pregnant Woman Can Be Taken Off Life Support

The family wanted her to "die with dignity" but doctors were concerned about the rights of the unborn child.

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Ireland's high court ruled Friday that a clinically dead pregnant woman can be taken off life support, CNN reported.

The court said there's "no reasonable prospect" the child would live.

The Belfast Telegraph has reported on the case of a clinically dead woman in the Republic of Ireland who is being kept on a life support machine because she is pregnant. According to the paper:

The woman's parents have requested that the machine be switched off, but doctors have been unwilling to do this because of the constitutional amendment, which gives the rights of mothers and the unborn equal status.

The woman, who is 17 weeks pregnant, suffered a catastrophic internal injury over a fortnight ago and has no chance of survival, but the foetus she is carrying is still alive.

The paper has interpreted this as a signal that there will be no "legislative changes or referendum" in the lifetime of the current Irish government. It also quotes two other politicians – environment minister Alan Kelly and health minister Leo Varadkar – as saying there will not be a referendum or revisit of the legislation.

Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alan White at

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