As published in the DailyMail, on May 20, 2013:
“A pregnant woman with a severe mental disorder who wants to have an abortion has been taken to the High Court by doctors trying to stop her.
Her four-day case started today as Mr Justice Holman will decide whether the unnamed 37-year-old, who is 23 weeks pregnant, is capable of making decisions about terminating her unborn child.
The judge made an order – at the start of the hearing today – saying neither the woman nor the health authority responsible for her care should be identified.
Lawyers representing the health authority have told the judge that the woman suffers with a ‘chronic and severe mental disorder’.
‘She is pregnant and she has requested a termination of her pregnancy,’ they added, in a written statement given to the judge.
‘She is believed to lack the capacity to make a decision regarding the termination of her pregnancy due to her mental disorder.’
They said the health authority was asking the judge to decide whether a ‘termination of her pregnancy is in her best interests’.
The Court of Protection is part of the High Court and analyses issues involving sick and vulnerable people.
In January a pregnant woman with severe learning difficulties was told that she will not be forced to have an abortion after the High Court ruled she has the mental capacity to decide if she wants the baby.
Doctors applied for an order to allow them to terminate her pregnancy claiming the child is endangering her life.
But the judge ruled the mother, who is 18 weeks pregnant, must still have the right to decide despite having a ‘significant learning impairment’.
The woman, who is not named for legal reasons, is described as being in the ‘bottom one per cent of the UK population’ in terms of cognitive ability.
Mr Justice Hedley said even if the pregnant woman did not have the capacity to care for the baby, society does.
The patient suffers from sickle cell disease and had a series of strokes when she was young, which left her mentally impaired and for which her family won damages from a hospital for negligence.
Medics said she does not have the ability to make the decision herself and have described the need for an abortion as ‘urgent’. “