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Pregnant woman's life support machine can be switched off, court rules

Doctors in the Republic of Ireland have been granted permission to switch off a life support machine keeping a clinically-dead woman alive because she is pregnant.

In a landmark ruling, Dublin's High Court said keeping the young mother alive would deprive her of dignity in death and subject her father, partner and two young children to "unimaginable distress" in a "futile exercise".

There is to be no appeal of the decision by either side in the case.

Paul Connors, communications director with the HSE, said it was a very welcome decision at the end of a very traumatic number of days for the woman's family.

"Certainly, it brings a great degree of clarity to these particular situations," he said.

The panel of judges said it was in the best interest of the unborn child to authorise the withdrawal of life support in what was a "tragic and unfortunate case".

The High Court added that it was a case of "great public importance".

The 26-year-old was pronounced clinically dead on December 3 after suffering a trauma injury last month.

Her family had sought to switch the equipment off to preserve her dignity.

But doctors refused, fearing they might be prosecuted under Ireland's strict Catholic-influenced abortion laws, which give the 18-week-old foetus the same constitutional rights as the mother.

Under the Irish constitution, the foetus is regarded as a citizen.

Belfast Telegraph