A British court has mandated that a mentally disabled London woman must terminate her pregnancy. The decision came late last week as the woman entered her 22nd week of pregnancy, as first reported by the Catholic News Agency. Justice Nathalie Lieven of the U.K. Court of Protection authorized doctors to perform an abortion on the woman despite her own objections and the objections of her mother. The woman’s mother, a former midwife who is originally from Nigeria, insisted that she was able to care for the baby herself, in light of her daughter’s mental disability.
Lieven said of her ruling, “I am acutely conscious of the fact that for the State to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn’t want it is an immense intrusion … I have to operate in [her] best interests, not on society’s views of termination.”
The U.K. Court of Protection was created as part of the Mental Capacity Act of 2005 and is meant to make decisions on personal affairs of people considered by the court to be unable to do so themselves. Although the woman has not been identified, a representative for the court confirmed that she was in her twenties and is currently under the National Health Service’s trust. The National Health Service requested the court intervene to give them permission to perform the abortion. A council-appointed social worker also sought the court’s decision to force the woman to have an abortion.
Commenting on the diminished mental capacity of the woman in question, Lieven explained that although the woman did not want to end her pregnancy, she didn’t feel that the woman would understand what it truly meant to have a baby, saying, “I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll.” The justice then suggested that the trauma of giving birth to the child and then having it removed to foster care would cause greater psychological damage than the forced abortion because, as she stated, “It would at that stage be a real baby.” The court representative confirmed details of the case and Lieven’s quotes to the New York Times.
Lieven further rejected the notion that the woman’s mother would be able to care for an infant while also providing care for her adult daughter. Abortion in the U.K. is legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. After that time, only instances of strong evidence suggesting that the baby is severely disabled would permit an abortion. It is not yet clear whether the woman or her mother will have the opportunity to appeal the court’s decision. Lawyers for the women have not been reached for comment.
Later on Monday, the U.K. Court of Appeals overruled Lieven’s decision after a challenge from the pregnant woman’s mother. Lady Justice Eleanor King, Lord Justice Richard McCombe, and Lord Justice Peter Jackson of the appeals court noted that case was unique and that they would provide more details about their decision in the future.
UK judge rules that woman must abort her baby – Washington Examiner