A UK judge has ordered that an abortion be performed on a pregnant woman with developmental disabilities despite the opposition of the woman and her mother, who are Catholic.
In her ruling, Justice Nathalie Lieven said she was operating in the “best interests” of the woman, who is 22 weeks pregnant, rather than on “society’s views of termination.”
“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,” she said.
Nonetheless, carrying the pregnancy to term, giving birth, and then having the child placed in foster care or up for adoption would be against the woman’s own interests, the judge said.
Lieven said that she believes the woman, who is in her “twenties” and has been diagnosed with a “moderately severe” learning disorder and a mood disorder, would suffer “greater trauma” from having a baby removed from her care once it is born, because “it would at that stage be a real baby.”
While the pregnancy seems real to the woman, she “doesn’t have a baby outside her body she can touch,” the judge said.
The woman’s mother, who is Nigerian, told doctors and the court that she and her daughter are absolutely opposed to the abortion, citing their Catholic faith, while assuring the court that she would assume responsibility for the care of her grandchild.
Justice Lieven said that in her opinion the woman’s mother, who is a former midwife, would not be able to care for a grandchild while also helping to care for her own daughter.
Lawyers representing the pregnant woman and her mother said they believe the judge has underestimated the disabled woman’s abilities and have argued that abortion would not be in her best interest. They also noted that the judge had no proper evidence suggesting that the pregnancy put the woman’s life or health at risk.
The ruling was handed down on June 21 in the Court of Protection, which tries cases involving persons deemed to lack sufficient mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Throughout her legal career prior to becoming a judge in 2018, Lieven had a history of pro-abortion activism.
In 2011, Lieven argued that women should be allowed to undergo a medical abortion in their own homes instead of in a hospital, in representing the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, an abortion provider, .
In 2015, Lieven represented the pro-abortion Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in an attempt to force Northern Ireland to legalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, or “serious malformation” of the preborn baby.
Lieven also argued in court that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws were a violation of the United Kingdom’s Human Rights Act, stating in 2017, that the country’s restrictive abortion laws were akin to torture.