‘Forced abortion’ decision overturned in case of 22-weeks-pregnant mentally ill woman
Three UK judges have overturned a court order to perform an abortion on a 22-weeks-pregnant mother, who has the mental capacity of a child, just three days after the ruling was handed down.
The Court of Appeal judges said that the wishes of the expectant mother, her own mother, and their social worker that the unborn child not be aborted must be respected. Reasons for the court’s decision will be given at a later date.
The London-based woman, reportedly originally from Nigeria, has the mental capacity of a nine-year-old in addition to a “moderately severe” learning disorder and a mood disorder.
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The NHS trust, which cares for the woman, sought court permission to terminate the pregnancy on advice from an obstetrician and two psychiatrists who cited the risk to the woman’s mental health as the reason for seeking the abortion.
A police investigation into the circumstances of the pregnancy, which remain unclear even after the legal proceedings, is under way.
On June 21, Justice Nathalie Lieven from the Court of Protection ruled that the doctors should perform an abortion in the best interests of the pregnant mother.
“I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll,” Lieven said at the time, as she handed down a decision which was heavily criticized by the Catholic Church and pro-life groups alike.
The woman’s mother, a former midwife, offered to care for the child but Lieven expressed concern that she would soon return to Nigeria.
Under the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act, abortions can be performed up to 24 weeks into the pregnancy, while the law also allows for terminations if there is a significant risk of the child being born seriously disabled.
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