A judge in England this week ruled that a pregnant 13-year-old girl can have an abortion, even though she is 30-weeks along.
Justice Mostyn ruled she was capable of making decision after the girl, known only as “A” in court documents, said she was not ready to have a baby. She was 21 weeks pregnant when the case went before the High Court in mid-March, making it so her unborn child is roughly 30-weeks-old now.
The abortion comes as, in the United States, a new report from the Guttmacher Institute finds teenage abortion rates are down to their lowest levels since 1988, a drop of 66 percent from that peak.
The schoolgirl – who can be identified only as ‘A’ – is believed to have thought she had been gaining a little weight for other reasons.
A scan at a local hospital confirmed she was pregnant but the devastated girl said she was not ready to start a family at such a young age and wanted to have a termination.
The girl was 21 weeks pregnant when the case went before the High Court as an emergency hearing in mid-March.
The local authority, which is in the North of England, was forced to seek a declaration that the child had the capacity to make the abortion decision herself.
This was required to ensure that doctors and hospital trusts could not be sued if they carried out the medical procedure.
If the girl was not capable of fully understanding the situation, the local authority would be allowed to terminate the pregnancy if doctors believed it was in her best interests.
He said this was the case even if it might lead her to take steps ‘wholly contrary to her best interests’.
He said girl A was interviewed by a consultant psychiatrist who concluded very clearly that she had ‘a very clear understanding of her position and of the options that were available to her.
‘Those options namely continuance of the pregnancy, or its termination, were discussed.’
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Mr Justice Mostyn said the law allowed a child aged under 16 to be given contraception if they had ‘sufficient understanding and intelligence’
The psychiatrist said that although A was ‘softly spoken’ she was able to explain to him that her wish was to terminate the pregnancy as ‘she felt that she could not cope with its continuance and it would stress her to a considerable degree.’