Young pregnant woman taken off life support on Saturday is buried

Way cleared for funeral following High Court decision last Friday

The young pregnant woman taken off life support following a High Court decision last Friday was buried on Monday in a cemetery following requiem Mass. Her family requested privacy.

The woman was at 15 weeks’ gestation when she was declared clinically dead on December 3rd last as a result of a brain trauma. However clinicians felt they could not withdraw life support because of uncertainty over the constitutional status of the foetus.

At a special sitting last Friday the High Court concluded that the woman’s rapidly deteriorating condition meant the prospect for the unborn was “nothing but distress and death”.

President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, Ms Justice Marie Baker and Ms Justice Caroline Costello also believed maintenance of life support would deprive the woman of dignity in death and subject her father, her partner and her two young children to "unimaginable distress in a futile exercise".

Mr Justice Kearns was told by lawyers representing the interests of the unborn and the woman that there would be no appeal to the Supreme Court, which meant her family could proceed with her funeral. It is understood life support was switched off on Saturday.

Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign described as "crass and unseemly the way some people are using this sad case to push for repeal of the Eighth Amendment, which offers the only remaining legal protection for the unborn in Ireland. "

Judges involved in the High Court decision last Friday have been accused of signing a death warrant for the foetus involved. Patrick McCrystal of Human Life International (Ireland) asked "at this Christmas season, do the judges wish to be likened to Pilate and Herod?"

Pilate, he said, “abdicated responsibility when faced with an innocent life in the balance and Herod acted to bring about the murder of the ‘Holy Innocents’. Has nothing changed? Are we not our ‘brother’s keeper’? There is a higher court to which these judges are accountable.”

He said “various cases worldwide show babies are successfully born having been kept alive for some weeks in similar circumstances.”

However last week the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said that “from the point of view of Catholic teaching and general medical ethics, there’s no obligation 6to use extraordinary means to maintain a life.”

He said, “that applies to both the woman and the child. The woman isn’t simply an incubator ... and it is very clear that one has to look at what stage is this foetus, what are the possibilities, is it even right to use extraordinary means to prolong life?”

Speaking to broadcaster Pat Kenny on Newstalk radio Archbishop Martin also said it was a pity such cases came before the courts and that the High Court (in a judgement then pending) would have to make its decision based on the medical evidence.