‘Bad laws make for hard cases’, pro-choice campaigners say

Case of woman on life support is ‘terrible’ from human point of view, Life Institute says

The question of whether or not the unborn child of a mother on life support should be kept alive has drawn reaction from both sides of the abortion law debate.

The pro-choice Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) said the law in the area is "flawed and unworkable". The case further exposed the State's "unjust and inhumane" abortion laws, spokeswoman Cathleen Doherty said.

"It is said that hard cases make bad laws, but we see in Ireland that bad laws make for hard cases," Ms Doherty said.

“Our laws facilitate this monstrous treatment. Women are not vessels,” she said.


Anti-abortion campaign, the Life Institute, said most people would agree it is a "human response" to want to save the life of the unborn child.

Life Institute spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain said any debate on this specific case required sensitive handling. “I think the medical team seem to be doing their best in what is a horrendous situation,” she said.

“I do think there needs to be a discussion around this. The legal position isn’t clear but from a human point of view it’s a terrible situation. I think if there is a chance to save the baby you have to take that.”

The woman in question had recently suffered brain trauma. Her pregnancy is in the second trimester and the foetus is well below the threshold for viability outside the womb.

The dilemma facing doctors is whether or not switching off life-support would breach the constitutional right of the foetus.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times