“I am 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,” said Judge Natalie Lieven, despite ruling a disabled woman in the UK must terminate her pregnancy.
The judge surpassed the wishes of the woman and her mother, forcing an abortion be conducted at 22 weeks.
The case of whether a disabled woman would be allowed to give birth was heard in the UK Court of Protection. This court deals with cases “involving individuals judged to lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.”
Judge Lieven overruled the wishes of both the woman in question and her mother, forcing an abortion be conducted at 22 weeks.
At 22 weeks, a baby in the womb is moving its eyes, able to grasp the umbilical cord, growing hair, and responding to external stimuli. The baby may even begin sucking his/her thumb.
Despite the disapproval of the baby’s mother and grandmother, Lieven argued that her ruling was indeed in the best interest of the woman:
“I have to operate in [her] best interests, not on society’s views of termination.”
Doctors at Britain’s National Health Service insisted on the abortion because it would be “less traumatic” for the woman due to her disability. They also voiced concern for the child ending up in foster care.
Doctors insisted on the abortion because it would be “less traumatic” for the woman due to her disability.
Judge Lieven stated: “I think [the woman] would suffer greater trauma from having a baby removed [from her care].”
The woman’s mother explained to both doctors and court that she would be caring for the child. Lieven does not believe the mother would be able to care for both her daughter and granddaughter simultaneously.
Although the identity of the disabled woman in question is unknown, it is understood that she is in her twenties, is Catholic, and has the mentally capabilities of a child in grade school. Her mother is said to be Nigerian.
The police are still investigating the conception and whether or not it was consensual.
This ruling comes at a time where abortion is an extensively debated and emotional topic internationally, especially in the United States.