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Women's Issues

Family Of Brain Dead Woman May Have To Fight Her Fetus’ Attorney In Court

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Family Of Brain Dead Woman May Have To Fight Her Fetus  Attorney In Court shutterstock 123461710 1418923798 142 196 167 223 280x187 jpgThe family of a pregnant Irish woman who has been declared clinically brain dead will potentially have to fight a lawyer representing her fetus in court. The woman is in her 20’s and is 17 weeks pregnant. She suffered a “catastrophic internal injury as a result of a blood clot” and was transferred to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. Doctors were unable to save her, but are keeping her body alive to give the fetus a chance at survival.

From The Independent:

It is understood that the hospital is now seeking legal advice on whether it can legally accede to her parents’ wishes.

“The legal advice would be there is one life here and it is the unborn child. Everything practicable has to be done – and that’s both under the constitution and the legislation passed last year. There is also a high possibility the unborn child will not survive,” a senior source said last night.

Ireland has highly restrictive abortion laws, which basically recognize the fetus as just as much of a citizen as the brain-dead mother. The Eight Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland introduced a constitutional ban on abortion in 1983. You may remember the tragic story of Savita Halappanavar, the 31-year-old woman who was denied a medically necessary abortion and died from complications of her pregnancy. Ireland has since passed the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, which is supposed to allow women whose lives are in danger due to their pregnancies to get and abortion, but that does not speak to this situation — in which the mother is clinically brain dead, but the fetus is alive.

So even though the family would like to lay their loved one to rest, they may have to fight the hospital to make that happen. That may include arguing the case in court — against an attorney representing the fetus.

When I first read about this story I thought, “this is the terrifying direction we are headed if personhood gains any more traction in this country.” Then I was reminded by an article about this case in Jezebel, that a similar situation played out last year in good, old America. The state of Texas kept Marlise Munoz alive for weeks after she was declared brain-dead — against her own wishes and the wishes of her family and husband — because she was pregnant. Texas law requires that hospitals do not remove “life-sustaining treatments” from pregnant women. We all know such laws care nothing about the woman, just the fetus she’s carrying.

Here’s hoping the Irish family gets their chance to mourn their daughter — not fight a lawyer for her fetus in a court of law.

(photo: sergign/ Shutterstock)

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