A NHS (National Health Service) sign is pictured outside St Thomas' Hospital in central London on March 8, 2017.
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A British judge authorized doctors to perform an abortion on a pregnant London woman with learning and mood disorders after determining that it is in her best interests, according to reports.
The woman, who has not been publicly identified, is 22 weeks pregnant, in her 20s and has the “mental capacity of a 6- to 9-year-old child,” the New York Times reported. Justice Nathalie Lieven issued the ruling in the Court of Protection, which makes decisions on financial or serious health care matters for people who “lack the mental capacity” to make their own decisions.
“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,” Lieven said in her decision.
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Lieven called the evidence “heartbreaking,” but said she had to act in the woman’s “best interests, not on society’s views of termination,” according to the Times.
Abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy was made legal in England, Wales and Scotland under the 1967 Abortion Act. Pregnancy can be terminated after 24 weeks under certain circumstances; for example, if the mother’s life is at risk or the child may be born with a severe disability.
The court was told the “circumstances of the conception [were] unclear,” and police are investigating how the woman got pregnant, British news outlet The Independent reported.
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The National Health Service trust which oversees the woman’s care requested the court’s permission for doctors to perform the abortion, according to the Independent. The woman’s mother, identified by the media as a former midwife from Nigeria, as well as a social worker and lawyers acting on behalf of the woman argued that the pregnancy should not be terminated.
The woman’s mother offered to care for the child with help from her daughter, but the judge said social workers were unlikely to accept that scenario due to the “risks posed by the woman’s psychological limitations,” The Independent reported.
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The judge said she believes the woman would suffer “greater trauma” if the baby had to be removed and placed into foster care or put up for adoption.
“It would at that stage be a real baby,” Lievens said. “Pregnancy, although real to her, doesn’t have a baby outside her body that she can touch.”
Lievens added that although evidence indicated the woman wanted to keep the baby, she likely had no sense of what having a child means.
“I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll,” Lievens said.
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