Terminating the pregnancy of a brain-dead mother: Does a fetus have a right to life? The law in South Africa

  • D McQuoid-Mason


In the recent Texas case of Munoz v. John Peter Smith Hospital, 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: (i) a fetus has no legal rights until it is born; and (ii) 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.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1999-7639