Sunday 25 September 2016

Husband who challenged State over status of unborn child after her death in crash drops case

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

Published 22/02/2016 | 17:45

Pat Enright at the coroners court in Clonmel. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Pat Enright at the coroners court in Clonmel. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Pat and Mary Enright
The scene of the crash on the N24 outside bansha in Co Tipperary. Photo: Press 22

A landmark legal case seeking to clarify how the existence of an unborn child should be recorded in the event of their mother’s death has been dropped.

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Patrick Enright, whose pregnant wife Mary died in a road traffic accident, announced he was abandoning the High Court action against the State.

The move came after a coroner last month decided that a death certificate could be issued for the couple’s unborn daughter Mollie.

Mr Enright said he was dropping the constitutional challenge as he had now done everything in his power to have Mollie’s existence acknowledged.

He had initiated the proceedings in September 2014 seeking that Mollie be recognised as a person and also seeking clarification on how her existence should be recorded.

Central to the case was whether or not Mollie could be technically considered to have been born. Without such a declaration, it would not have been possible for a death certificate to be issued.

Tipperary coroner Paul Morris had previously indicated he would give a narrative verdict in the case and would leave it up to a registrar to decide how to deal with the issue of how Mollie’s life and death was registered.

However, on the morning of the inquest the coroner decided Mollie should be registered as a stillbirth.

The coroner found that “as a matter of law, the removal or separation of the non-living foetus in the course of an autopsy from the mother, is a birth, and therefore her death is registerable as a stillbirth.”

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