No forced abortion for mentally handicapped woman, rules UK court
LONDON, January 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A High Court justice in the UK has refused to allow authorities to forcibly abort the unborn child of a mentally disabled woman, saying that she has the right to make her own decision.
The 18-weeks pregnant woman is described in court documents as having a “significant learning impairment” and being in the “bottom one per cent of the UK population” for cognitive ability. She also suffers from sickle-cell anaemia, a genetic disease that may be passed on to her child. Her illness caused a series of strokes in early childhood that resulted in brain damage.
Mr. Justice Hedley ruled that the child should not be killed, saying that even if his mother cannot care for him, society has the ability. Hedley, ruling for the Court of Protection at London’s High Court, said that it is in the woman’s “best interests” to allow her to “continue with the pregnancy.”
Hedley said that even if people with mental disabilities cannot take part in court proceedings on their own behalf, they “may very well retain the capacity to make deeply personal decisions about how they conduct their lives.” These could include decisions about their own medical care, including “termination of pregnancy.”
“My instincts are that (her limited mental function) has nothing to do with the issue of whether a pregnancy should continue simply because once the child is born, if the mother doesn’t have the ability to care for a child, society has perfectly adequate processes to deal with that.
“I’m anxious about there being brought into capacity assessments… the ability to care for a child in the future,” the Independent newspaper quoted the judge saying.
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The case was brought by a team of physicians who made an “urgent” petition to the court to end the life of the child.
Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, commented on the petition, calling it a “complete mockery of justice.”
“Judges and lawmakers around the world have exercised the power to create and uphold the legal ‘choice’ for women to kill their babies through abortion for decades,” Fr. Boquet said.
“We shouldn’t be surprised that those in power would also force mothers to kill their children ‘for their own good.’ This is not the first time the ‘choice’ to abort a child has evolved into a requirement that a child be aborted.”
In February last year, a Massachusetts judge ordered a mentally ill woman to undergo a forced abortion and sterilization. She justified this decision saying it was in the woman’s best interests.
Former Norfolk Probate Judge Christina Harms, whose decision was subsequently overturned, was unapologetic, saying, “I believed then, as I do now, that she would elect to abort the pregnancy to protect her own well-being. She would want to be healthy.” The pregnant woman, who described herself as “very Catholic,” suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
In November last year, a Nevada judge announced that a forced abortion was “no longer being considered” in the case of a mentally disabled pregnant woman from Reno. Judge Egan Walker had initially been determined to force 32-year-old Elisa Bauer to abort her child, despite the wishes of her legal guardians and care givers.
While forced abortion in China, funded in part by the US government and British-supported “family planning” groups, remains a focus of human rights activists’ interventions, the international abortion lobby continues to turn a blind eye to the practice.