A judge in the United Kingdom is forcing a 22-weeks-pregnant Catholic woman with developmental disabilities to have an abortion against her will.
In her ruling Friday, Judge Nathalie Lieven of the Court of Protection said she understands her decision “appears” to be “an immense intrusion” on a woman, particularly when the mother has stated she does not wish to terminate her pregnancy, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Regardless, Lieven is standing by her ruling, because she has “to operate in [the mother’s] best interests, not on society’s views of termination.”
It should be noted the judge has played an active role in expanding abortion access. For example, she worked last year to get Northern Ireland’s restrictions on abortion struck down.
And now she’s continuing her activism from the bench. It really is quite something to see a judge admit her decision is “an immense intrusion,” but move forward anyway. What kind of precedent does that set? How else might the government invade a person’s private life?
The woman, who has not been publicly identified, has been described as in her twenties with a grade-school-age mental capacity. She is under the care of the National Health Service in the U.K.
Despite the fact the pregnant woman’s mother, a Nigerian woman, has made clear she would assume guardianship of her grandchild, the NHS still wants to abort the baby because doctors believe the termination would be less traumatic for the mentally handicapped woman than going through with childbirth.
Lieven, for her part, also does not believe the woman really understands what having a baby means, even though she says she would like to go through with the pregnancy.
“I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll,” the judge said.
John McKendrick, the attorney representing the pregnant woman’s mother, told the judge there is “no proper evidence” that allowing the pregnancy to go to term would put the young woman’s life or health at risk, according to the Daily Mail.
An attorney for the state, though, believes forcing the woman to have an abortion is an act of benevolence.
“A termination is in her best interests,” Fiona Paterson said. “In broad terms [they] believe that as a result of her learning disabilities … [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.”