The case 'raises serious questions about the meaning of 'best interests',' said Bishop John Sherrington
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has condemned a court decision to force a woman with “moderately severe” learning difficulties to have an abortion.
Doctors argued that an abortion was in the woman’s “best interests”, but her social workers disagreed. Her legal team also argued there was “no proper evidence” to show this.
The woman’s mother, a Nigerian Catholic, offered to care for her grandchild, but the judge, Mrs Justice Lieven, ruled that the grandmother was unable to provide sufficient care.
Although the mother wanted to bring the pregnancy to term, Justice Lieven said: “I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll.” She added that the mother “would suffer greater trauma from having a baby removed” to be adopted than from an abortion.
Speaking on behalf of the bishops of England and Wales, Bishop John Sherrington 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.”