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UK appeal court stops forced abortion for disabled woman

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

WESTMINSTER, London, England, June 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Doctors may not forcibly abort the baby of a disabled British woman, appeal court judges have ruled. 

Today three appeal court judges overturned a decision by Mrs Justice Nathalie Lieven, 55, that doctors should perform an abortion on the woman against her will. 

The appeal was brought by the unnamed woman’s mother, who is a Nigerian Catholic and a former midwife. 

Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson considered the challenge to Lieven’s ruling at a Court of Appeal hearing in London today, according to Press Association. 

They said they would give reasons for their decision at a later date.

The new ruling follows days of protest as even some pro-abortion advocates reeled at the idea of the British state forcing a woman to undergo an abortion against her wishes. 

On Friday, doctors petitioned the Court of Protection, a legal measure for making decisions on behalf of people believed mentally incapable of them, for permission to perform an abortion on the disabled woman, a black Briton of Nigerian descent, who is said to have the understanding of a ten-year-old child. Mrs Justice Nathalie Lieven, QC, agreed with the doctors that the woman’s unborn child should be killed even though the woman did not want to undergo the procedure.  

Lieven, who was revealed in a recent article by UK-based Nigerian pro-life activist to have worked for years on behalf of the British abortion lobby, admitted that forced abortion was “an intrusion.” 

"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," Lieven said.  

"I have to operate in (her) best interests, not on society's views of termination."

Lieven, the descendent of Baltic German nobility and a member of a highly accomplished German-British family of academics and journalists, dismissed the wishes of the pregnant woman, saying, "I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll."

The woman is twenty-two weeks pregnant, but Lieven said she believed the woman would suffer more if her baby was taken away than if she underwent an abortion. The judge suggested that the baby wasn’t yet “a real baby.” 

"I think (she) would suffer greater trauma from having a baby removed,” Lieven stated. “It would at that stage be a real baby." 

"Pregnancy, although real to her, doesn't have a baby outside her body she can touch," she said.

A 22-week old unborn baby is roughly the size of a coconut. 

Not only do the pregnant woman and her mother oppose the abortion, the social worker caring for her disagreed that an abortion “was in her best interests.” According to the Society for the Protection of Children (SPUC), her legal team said that there was “no proper evidence” to show that this was the case.  

The mother of the pregnant woman has stated that she is willing to care for her daughter, who is in her twenties, and her grandchild, but Lieven doubted she was capable of it.  

Pro-abortion judge's bias 

In an editorial for First Things, Nigerian pro-life advocate Obianuju “Uju” Ekeocha revealed that Madame Justice Nathalie Lieven, 55, has a long history of supporting Britain’s abortion industry. 

“Nathalie Lieven was appointed a High Court judge in December 2018, and her appointment took effect on January 11, 2019,” Ekeocha wrote. 

“Most reports have failed to highlight that in the last fifteen years Lieven has had a prominent place in the British pro-abortion movement. She has been in the forefront of some of the landmark abortion-related cases in the country.”

In 2005, Lieven argued in court for an International Planned Parenthood affiliate, the Family Planning Association, that parents, in the words of the Guardian report, “are no longer necessarily the best people to advise a child on contraception, sexually transmitted infections and abortions –  and they have no right to know if their children under 16 are seeking treatment.”

Then in 2011, Lieven represented Britain’s largest abortion business, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), to argue that pregnant women should be allowed to take the second dose of the two-step chemical abortion at home without medical supervision.

Lieven also fought to have Northern Ireland’s stricter abortion law overturned. Ekeocha reported that from 2015 to 2018 Lieven represented the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission from 2015 to 2018 when it took the country’s government to court, arguing that their pro-life law violated the human rights of women and girls. Alone of all the countries in the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland forbids abortion unless the mother’s life is endangered. As lead counsel, Lieven said, “The impact of the criminal law in Northern Ireland does amount to inhuman and degrading treatment by the state.” 

“These important abortion-related cases have laid the foundations for the expansion of legal abortion in the U.K., and Lieven has been deeply involved in the construction of these foundations,” Ekeocha argued. 

“As a lawyer, she has been the voice of abortion organizations, she has argued to increase abortion access in the U.K., she has fought against the rights of parents with regards to their children, she has claimed that the fetus does not have an autonomous right to life under U.K. law, and she has spoken on panels dedicated to abortion rights-related litigations,” the pro-life leader continued.

“In short, throughout her career she has championed the cause of abortion in the U.K. Now, barely six months after being elevated to the [High Court] judge’s bench, she has handed down an outrageous ruling that will lead to terminating a fully formed unborn baby—against the wishes of the mother and grandmother.”

Catholic bishops’ responses

This morning, the Roman Catholic bishops of England broke their silence on Friday’s ruling. Bishop John Sherrington of the Westminster Diocese issued a statement on their behalf. 

"Every abortion is a tragedy. This tragedy is compounded in the case of the recent legal decision of the Court of Protection to rule that a mother, who is in her 20s and has a 'moderately severe' learning disability and who wishes to keep her child at 22 weeks, must have an abortion," he wrote.

"The natural birth of her child is supported by her mother - who has said she will care for the child - her social worker, and her legal team," Sherrington continued. 

"Forcing a woman to have an abortion against her will, and that of her close family, infringes her human rights, not to mention the right of her unborn child to life in a family that has committed to caring for this child. In a free society like ours there is a delicate balance between the rights of the individual and the powers of the state."

"This is a sad and distressing decision for the whole family whom we keep in our prayers. This case, for which all the information is not available, raises serious questions about the meaning of ‘best interests’ when a patient lacks mental capacity and is subject to the court’s decision against her will," he concluded. 

The bishops’ statement was criticized by members of the Catholic media in England as being overly meek. 

Damian Thompson, editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald, tweeted that the “Statement from [the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales] on the disgusting forced abortion [was]  late, unmemorable, entirely lacking in righteous anger. The bare minimum. Pathetic.” 

Yesterday Scotland’s Bishop John Keenan of the Diocese of Paisley took a relatively sterner approach by exhorting those who listened to his video message to sign a CitizenGo petition against the forced abortion. 

“It’s a horrific decision which is ironically uniting pro-lifers and pro-choicers,” he said. “... Sign immediately your strong objection to this decision.” 

The Paisley bishop also asked England’s Health Secretary to step in to stop the abortion. 

“Could I also appeal directly to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, to intervene with your executive powers  to stop this wrong decision?” 

“The decision is wrong on so many levels,” the bishop continued, “and it introduces a dangerous new development in the overreach of the power of the state over its citizens.”

“It’s a wrong decision that has to be changed, not just in the interests of this woman and her child, but in the interests of everyone who believes in … the prerogatives of citizens over the state,” he added. 

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