| 11.6°C Dublin

'Clinically dead' mum-to-be kept alive against her parents' wishes


Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar


Leo Varadkar

A PREGNANT woman who is clinically brain dead is being kept on a life support machine against the wishes of her parents.

The woman is early in the second trimester of pregnancy and the baby is still alive.

According to sources with knowledge of the case, her parents have expressed their wish that the life support machine be switched off.

However, doctors have been unwilling to do this due to the constitutional amendment which gives the rights of mothers and the unborn equal status.

Details of the tragic case were established by the Herald as politicians tonight debated a private members' bill which seeks to repeal the eighth amendment, which acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, equating it with the mother's right to life.

Sources said the woman's parents were now considering a legal challenge to the decision not to allow the life support machine to be turned off.

The woman suffered a catastrophic internal injury due to a blood clot and was brought to hospital a fortnight ago.

Doctors were unable to save her, but kept her on life support so her unborn baby could have a chance of life.

Sources said that, following a clinical assessment, it was decided to transfer her to another hospital last week.

The Herald understands the hospital is seeking legal advice on whether it can legally accede to her parent's wishes. The HSE declined to comment this evening.

"We are not in a position to comment on any individual," a spokeswoman said.

Details of the case emerged a day after Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he felt the eighth amendment was too restrictive and had a "chilling" effect on doctors.

His remarks came during a debate on a private members' bill by Independent TD Clare Daly, which seeks to repeal of the amendment.

Mr Varadkar has opposed the bill as he disagrees with the wording of the proposed legislation. However, describing himself as pro-life, he called for a national debate on the issue.

"Speaking as Minister for Health, and as a medical doctor, and knowing now all that I do now, it is my view that the eighth amendment is too restrictive," Mr Varadkar said.

"Difficult decisions that should be made by women and their doctors, a couple or next-of-kin where there is no capacity, and on the basis of best clinical practice, are now made on foot of legal advice. That isn't how it should be."

In his speech, Mr Varadkar called for an end to the "Moral Civil War" and the removal of the eighth amendment of the Constitution, voted on in 1983.