Just days after a British judge ruled a mentally disabled woman must undergo an abortion, a three-judge panel in the English Court of Appeal overturned her decision.
Judge Nathalie Lieven sided Friday with the National Health Service, forcing a 22-weeks-pregnant Catholic woman with developmental disabilities to have an abortion against her will.
At the time, the judge, who has played an active role in expanding access to abortion, said her job is “to operate in [the mother’s] best interests, not on society’s views of termination.”
Lieven even admitted her ruling was “an immense intrusion” into the woman’s private life, but moved forward anyway because — in her opinion — the pregnant mother doesn’t understand her situation.
“I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll,” the judge said.
The NHS, for its part, argued it would be more traumatic for the woman, who has been described as being in her twenties and with a grade-school-level mental capacity, to carry a pregnancy to term than to undergo an abortion, never mind the fact the young woman’s mother plans to assume guardianship of the child.
After intense uproar, including a scathing statement from the auxiliary bishop of Westminster, Justices McCombe, King, and Jackson overturned Lieven’s earlier decision.
While the panel said they would detail the reasons behind their decision at a later date, they did describe the situation as “unique,” according to Press Association reports.
Clare McCarthy, a spokesperson for the Right to Life U.K., described the ruling as “a very welcome decision that will save the life of the unborn child and the mother from a forced late-term abortion and much undue distress.”
“However, the horrific original ruling should never have happened,” she added, according to the Catholic News Agency. “Unfortunately, we fear that this is not a one-off case.”
As a result of this controversial incident, McCarthy said the pro-life organization is now calling on the Department of Health to disclose “how many women have been forced to have an abortion in the U.K. over the last 10 years and make it clear how they will ensure it will not happen again.”