Last week, a judge in the UK determined that a woman who was 22 weeks pregnant should be given a forced abortion against her will. Justice Nathalie Lieven cited the woman’s lack of mental capacity and the potential trauma of taking a “real baby” away into foster or adoptive care after birth. The pregnant woman was promised a new doll after the abortion.
The young woman in question reportedly has the mental capacity of an elementary-school child, but her mother had promised to take full responsibility for raising the child. The mother and a social worker involved both spoke adamantly against the abortion, which the National Health Service doctors responsible for the pregnant woman’s care were recommending.
In an expedited hearing a few days later, a higher court thankfully overturned the ruling.
The fact that the initial ruling was made at all is troubling – here is a judge who believes it could be justified that the state would have so much control over a woman as to go into her body and kill her child without her consent. It also shows how little value is placed on a pre-born child. It seems in this case the state did have some capacity as a medical decision maker for this woman. But abortion is not healthcare. It would not improve this woman’s health, and definitely not do anything for the health of her pre-born child. This is a misuse of the government’s responsibility to care for those who are unable to care for themselves.
Add to this that it is also against the woman’s expressed wishes. Both pro-life as well as pro-choice advocates who staunchly defend the “my body, my choice” rhetoric must oppose this completely. It reeks of China’s one-child policy, or horror stories from North Korea, where forced abortions and sterilizations are a known occurrence. This is not the type of state power we expect or can allow to go unnoticed.
Further information and context will hopefully be forthcoming when the reasons for overturning the decision are released in the near future.