Catholic Church Slams Judge for Ruling Doctors Can Force Mentally Disabled Woman to Have Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 24, 2019   |   9:55AM   |   London, England

Top Catholic Church officials are condemning a British judge for ruling that doctors can force a mentally disabled woman to have an abortion.

As LifeNews reported, a British judge ruled in favor of a government-run hospital to allow doctors to abort the mentally disabled woman’s 22 week old unborn baby against her will.

Doctors argued that the abortion is in the woman’s best interests — even though social workers and her own family disagree. Her legal team argued there is no evidence to show that aborting her baby is beneficial for her. The woman’s mother has even offered to care for the grandchild but the judge ruled otherwise.

Mrs Justice Lieven wrote in her ruling: “I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll.”

But Bishop John Sherrington, speaking on behalf of the Catholic Bishops in the UK, said, “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.”

“This is a sad and distressing decision for the whole family whom we keep in our prayers,” he added. “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.”

Fiona Paterson, the barrister for the trust, said that doctors caring for the woman, who is in her 20s and diagnosed with a ‘moderately severe’ learning disorder and a mood disorder, believe an abortion is in her best interests.

“(Her) treating clinicians consider that on balance, a termination is in her best interests,” she said, in a written case outline.

“In broad terms (they) believe that as a result of her learning disabilities, (she) would find labour very difficult to tolerate and the recovery from a Caesarean section very challenging.

“(They) consider that (she) is likely to find the loss of a pregnancy easier to recover from than separation from the baby if he or she is taken into care.

“They also consider that (she) is at increased risk of psychosis if the pregnancy continues.”

The woman’s mother, who is a member of the Nigerian Igbo community, is fighting the application. She says abortion is against her Roman Catholic religious beliefs and her cultural beliefs. She also said that she would be able to care for the baby, and that her daughter’s abilities and wishes were being undermined.

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Barrister John McKendrick QC, who is leading the woman’s mother’s legal team, told the judge: “It is accepted that (the woman) lacks capacity to conduct these proceedings and to make a decision in respect of whether or not to consent to a termination and associated ancillary treatment.

“That being said, (her mother) considers that the applicant has underestimated (her) ability and understanding, and that more weight should be place on her wishes and feelings.”

Mr McKendrick said “Termination is not in (the woman’s) best interests.”

He also said that the judge had “no proper evidence” to show that allowing the pregnancy to continue would put the woman’s life or long-term health at grave risk.

“The applicants have failed to carry out a proper best interests analysis,” he said.“Their evidence is premised on a narrow clinical view. The application must be dismissed.”

The woman herself is independently represented by staff from the office of the Official Solicitor, who help mentally-ill people at the centre of litigation. Susanna Rickard, the barrister who is leading the woman’s legal team, also said abortion did not appear to be in her best interests.

Leading pro-life groups are outraged by the decision, including the UK-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

SPUC’s deputy chief executive John Deighan said:

“This is an outrage which should shock every right-thinking person. It is a level of cruelty and barbarity reminiscent of how people with mental health issues were treated in the 1930s of Nazi Germany. To force abortion on any person is abhorrent and to do so in the name of medicine and in the complete defiance of the religious and cultural values of the mother concerned calls into question the structures of law and justice in our society.”