Overturning refusal of a hospital to terminate life support for a brain-dead mother until the fetus was born: What is the law in South Africa?

David Jan McQuoid-Mason


In a Texas case the court granted a husband an order for the removal of life support from his brain-dead pregnant wife after a hospital tried to keep her on it until the fetus was born. In South Africa the court would have issued a similar order, but for different reasons. Here, unlawfully and intentionally subjecting a pregnant corpse to life-support measures to keep a fetus alive against the wishes of the family would amount to the crime of violating a corpse.

Author's affiliations

David Jan McQuoid-Mason, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Brain-dead pregnant woman; Life support; Violation of corpse

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(8):553-554. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8164

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-03-07
Date published: 2014-06-19

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