Irish judges have ruled that life support should be removed from a brain-dead pregnant woman because her living 18-week-old fetus cannot survive to birth.

Friday's ruling was accepted by lawyers representing the rights of the woman and the unborn child, who in Ireland has a constitutionally protected right to life.

Ireland has the strictest anti-abortion laws in Europe. Doctors treating the woman had refused family requests to remove her from life-support machines after she was declared clinically dead Dec. 3, arguing they couldn't legally afford to withdraw support from the fetus inside her.

The court accepted testimony from seven doctors that the fetus "has nothing but distress and death in prospect." The woman was declared clinically dead four days after suffering a severe head injury in a fall.