Seven Irish doctors yesterday asked the Dublin High Court for one thing: that a brain-dead pregnant woman be taken off life support. The seven were in agreement that, as the AP puts it, her fetus appeared doomed. The father of the woman, who is 18 weeks pregnant and was declared clinically dead three weeks ago, has asked that she "be put to rest," and the Irish Independent reports that one doctor began crying while testifying, saying, "She is a little girl with painted nails. But she is dead ... she is fully dead." An Irish constitutional amendment protects fetuses from conception—they're considered Irish citizens—making the woman's doctors fearful of the repercussions of turning off the machines. "We were three clinicians trying to figure out the eighth amendment," says one.
One intensive care specialist who examined the woman Monday said her body was unrecognizable in comparison to a photo of her, and noted there was "evidence of fungus growing" on the woman's "rotting" brain. In terms of the fetus's viability, the doctor further expressed concerns that the woman had a possible abdominal infection, the effects of the antibiotics she had been dosed with, and how high her temperature got. Another doctor stated that treatment, if not stopped now, would go "from the extraordinary to the grotesque." Doctors said the patient, who is in her late 20s and has two young children, suffered a head wound in a Nov. 29 bathroom fall; fluid then built up in her brain, and she was declared dead Dec. 3. The three-judge panel is today hearing lawyers' closing arguments; it will give its judgment Friday, an unprecedented move as that is St. Stephen's Day, a national holiday. (Read more Ireland stories.)