oa South African Journal of Bioethics and Law - Terminating the pregnancy of a brain-dead mother : does a fetus have a right to life? The law in South Africa

Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1999-7639



In the recent Texas case of , the court granted a husband an order for the removal of life support from his brain-dead pregnant wife whose body was decaying, after a hospital had tried to keep her on 'life support' until the fetus was born. In South Africa the court would have issued a similar order but for different reasons, viz. because in this country: a fetus has no legal rights until it is born; and unlawfully subjecting a dead pregnant women to 'life-support' measures to keep a fetus alive, where the deceased has not made a will to that effect, and against the wishes of the family, could result in a criminal charge of violating a corpse.

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