LONDON — A Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom has overturned a lower court ruling that would have required a woman with mental disabilities to obtain an abortion against her wishes. The woman’s mother has said that she will primarily care for the child.
The woman, who is in her 20s and whose name has not been made public, is more than 20 weeks pregnant and reportedly has the mental capacity of a six to nine-year old. She also is stated to struggle with a mood disorder.
The National Health Service (NHS) had been providing care for the woman, and had asked the courts to allow doctors to perform an abortion. The specialists had argued in favor of the termination, the BBC reports.
The woman and her mother, however, wanted to keep the child. Her mother was a former midwife and had said that she would care for the baby. A social worker also sided with allowing the baby to be born.
However, Justice Nathalie Lieven of the Court of Protection issued a decision last week stating that it would be in the “best interest” of the “heartbreaking” case for the woman to obtain an abortion.
“I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll,” she opined.
Lieven stated that it she is “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,” but concluded that she must act in the woman’s “best interests, not on society’s views of termination.”
According to The Independent, the judge also rejected the argument that the woman’s mother would care for the child, stating that due to the woman’s mental and behavioral issues, either the woman might have to leave her home or the baby could end up in foster care.
She said that then losing a visible “real baby” would cause the woman to “suffer greater trauma.”
The case was appealed, and on Monday, three justices — Richard McCombe, Eleanor King and Peter Jackson — overturned Lieven’s ruling. They will detail their reasoning at a later date.
Pro-life groups have cheered the development, as they believe that adding the violence of abortion to an already difficult situation is not the answer.
“There is no way such a judgment should ever have been made, and had it gone ahead would have been a most grave violation of human rights,” remarked Liz Parsons of the UK charity Life in a statement.
“Three judges have now concluded that doctors must not carry out this abortion in a result that finally shows true compassion for all concerned,” she opined.
Parsons had offered last week to provide “help and support this family in whatever way we can, as well as any other families who might find themselves in similar circumstances.” She repeated the message on Monday.
“While we await the details of the verdict, we would like to reiterate our offer of support for this woman, her mum and extended family, as well as anyone else who might benefit from our services,” she said.
The circumstances surrounding how the woman became pregnant are not yet known, but an investigation is underway.