Yahoo – AFP, Conor Barrins, and Naomi O'Leary in London
|Pro-Choice supporters demonstrate outside the Irish Parliament building|
in Dublin on July 10, 2013 (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)
Dublin (AFP) - Ireland's high court ruled doctors can withdraw life support for a clinically dead pregnant woman on Friday, in the latest case to trigger heated debate on the country's stringent abortion laws.
Despite requests from the woman's family for her to be allowed to die, doctors continued life support as the Irish constitution says a woman and her unborn child have an equal right to life.
The woman was 14 weeks pregnant when she was declared clinically dead on December 3 after suffering a brain injury. She has been on life support since but is "deteriorating rapidly", the court heard.
The case touched on a deeply divisive issue in Ireland, which has a controversial constitutional ban on abortion, with even the head of the Catholic Church in the country saying, "A woman isn't simply an incubator."
The high court's judgement accepted medical evidence that the foetus has "no realistic prospect of emerging alive" and that only legal uncertainty had brought the case to this point.
"To maintain and continue the present somatic support for the mother would deprive her of dignity in death and subject her father, her partner and her young children to unimaginable distress," the judgement said.
It described continuing medical treatment as "a futile exercise which commenced only because of fears held by medical specialists of potential legal consequences".
The case reignited fierce social tensions in majority Catholic Ireland over the rights of unborn children, prompting the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin to speak out on the issue.
"From the point of view of Catholic teaching in general medical ethics, there is no obligation to use extraordinary means to maintain a life," Martin told Newstalk radio. "A woman isn't simply an incubator."
In a statement following the judgement, the Irish health service welcomed the judgement and expressed "deepest sympathy to the family... in the tragic and extremely difficult situation they have found themselves in."
But experts said similar cases could emerge in the future due to the broad language of the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution.
Though intended to outlaw abortion, the wording of the amendment does not refer specifically to termination and affords equal rights to a woman and her unborn child "as far as practicable".
"The (court's) decision was based on the absence of a realistic prospect of a live birth," Conor O'Mahony, a senior lecturer in constitutional law at University College Cork wrote in an analysis of the judgement.
"As long as the eighth amendment remains in the constitution in its present form, the possibility of such a deeply tragic and private case being decided in the very public and distressing surroundings of the courts will be present."
The broad wording of the law has also been blamed for causing confusion in emergency situations in the past.
Earlier this month, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said the constitutional rules around abortion are "too restrictive" and have a "chilling effect" on doctors.
"Difficult decisions that should be made by women and their doctors, a couple or next-of-kin... on the basis of best clinical practice, are now often made on foot of legal advice. That is not how it should be."
A series of protests have demanded the amendment be repealed, but Prime Minister Enda Kenny has ruled out a referendum before the next general election, which is due in 2016.
In 2013, after another divisive debate and a supreme court ruling, Dublin introduced new laws allowing for terminations in limited circumstances if the life of the mother was at risk.
It followed the death of 31-year-old Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital in October 2012, in a case that generated global attention.
Halappanavar had sought a termination when told she was miscarrying, but the request was refused as the foetus was alive and her life appeared not to be in danger. She died of blood poisoning days after miscarrying.
"Current" Events – Apr 10, 2005 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll)
"... The Ethics of Life
You, as a Human Being, are designed to appreciate and love life. But you put it in a box. You think you live once. You say, life is precious; make it count; keep it going at all costs; make it work. And the underlying thought is that because you only go around one time, all the purpose is wrapped up in one lifetime. Well, I'm going to give you something to think about, something that happened just recently that tens of millions of people all over earth who have the western news media know of.
It was all about one woman's life, and you know who I'm talking about. I'm talking about Terri [Terri Schiavo]. And I'm going to talk about Terri because, you know, she's here [speaking of the real Terri]! And I'm going to give you a perspective about Terri that perhaps you hadn't thought about before, and as I do it, she's going to watch.
It's very metaphysical, you know? This perspective is one from my side of the veil. Terri leaned into the wind of birth many years ago, just as you did. I was there, too. There were potentials laying in front of her - a track that she could take if she wished. There was no predestination, only predispositions of energy that laid before her: the parents she would have (which she had selected), the man she might meet or marry, the accident waiting to happen. All of these things were in her "potential track," and she could have chosen not to go there.
But like so many of you, she looked at it and examined it. These were the times we spoke to her and said, "Dear one, you're going into another Human lifetime that has a potential that's awesome - grander than most Humans on the planet will ever experience. You'll get to present something to tens of millions of people. You'll make them think about life. You'll change the legal system of your country. You'll awaken peoples' awareness to situations that need to be addressed with respect to morality, integrity, and even intuition. Will you do it?"
And I remember what she said. The grand angel who stood before me, who you now call Terri, smiled broadly and said, "I'm ready for that." And some of you cry in your sorrow and say "Why is this Human dead? How could such a thing be tolerated? Why would such a thing happen? Life is so precious." And I ask you this, as Terri looks on in her joy, would you take this away from her? Would you take that away from humanity, what she showed and did that resulted directly in her passing?
Start thinking of these things, perhaps differently. We've told you before that there are even those Human Beings who come in with a predisposition of suicide! What a horrible thought, you might say. "Kryon, could that even be appropriate?" And we say this: More than appropriate, it's by design! "But why should that be?" You might say. "What a horrible dishonorable death." And if that's your reaction, you're placing the whole grand picture in your own little Human box.
When you start examining it spiritually, without Human bias, you start to see that around a suicide there's this energy that develops. It's all about the family. Is there shame? Is there drama? Does it kick the family in the pants so that perhaps they might study things they never did - or perhaps they might they even look within themselves for spirituality? Blessed is the one that comes in with these tasks [like suicide]. There are so many of them who do. For these are the grease of personal change within families, and provide a gift that is grand!
You see, Spirit looks at these things differently. The curtain goes up, it goes down. You come and you go and there are profound lessons, some of which are taught harshly, by those who teach them through their own deaths.
"Well, what is it Kryon? Don't dodge the question with a diversion to suicide, for this isn't what Terri did. Is it proper or is it improper to have somebody in this vegetative state put to death by others around her?" Our answer: Exactly which Human are you talking about? You want a blanket answer, don't you? For six and half billion souls and paths, you want one answer for all. Well, you won't get one. For Terri, the answer is a solid yes. It was as it should have been. She came in with this grand opportunity to change the world, and she did it while everyone watched.
There is appropriateness in all things and sometimes you create for yourselves what seems to be inappropriate. Yet later you understand what the gift was within the challenge. Celebrate Terri, and don't think of this as a shameful thing that Humans did to her. Think of it instead as a book that was written for you to look at, one which pushes you to a place to ask, "What should we do about this now, personally? What should our legislatures do about this, if anything? How can we approach these things more humanely and with more honor? Is our culture addressing this issue? Are we addressing this issue personally?" Let's put these questions where they belong. It's not about "right to life"; it's about the appropriateness of "this life." Each case is individual, and some are profoundly given for the planet and for those around the individual.
Oh, as all of you came into this planet and leaned into the wind of birth separately, each was unique. Each of you has a different story, a different goal, but all have the same purpose: the elevation of the vibration of the planet. Sometimes it happens to many of you at the same time. We'll get to that before we finish. ..."
"THE THREE WINDS" – Feb 23-24, 2013 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Humanity, Home - other side of the veil, Wind of Birth - Birth, Wind of Existence - Life, Wind of Transition - Death) - (Text version)