On Friday, a female British judge ordered a pregnant woman who reportedly has developmental disabilities and a mood disorder to have an abortion, even though the woman and her mother allegedly strenuously object.
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports that the pregnant woman is 22 weeks pregnant and has been described as “in her twenties.” CAN also noted that the woman is reportedly Catholic, with a mother from Nigeria, and has the mental capacity of a grade school-age child. CNA added, “The woman’s mother, reported to be a former midwife, registered her absolute opposition to the abortion citing the Catholic faith of herself and her daughter.”
The judge, Justice Nathalie Lieven, who serves in the Court of Protection, which deals with individuals deemed to lack the ability to make decisions for themselves, stated, “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. … I have to operate in [her] best interests, not on society's views of termination.” Lieven added of the pregnant woman, “I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll.”
Doctors argued that the baby should be aborted because it would be less traumatic for the pregnant woman than seeing her child placed in foster care. Lieven agreed, saying, “I think [the woman] would suffer greater trauma from having a baby removed [from her care].”
CNA delineated the kinds of actions Lieven has previously taken regarding abortion: “In 2011, while representing the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, an abortion provider, she argued that British women should be permitted to medically abort their pregnancies at their own homes instead of in a hospital. Five years later, Lieven argued in court that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws were a violation of the United Kingdom’s Human Rights Act. In 2017, she said that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws were akin to torture and were discriminatory.” Reuters reported that Lieven said in 2017, “The impact of the criminal law in Northern Ireland does amount to inhuman and degrading treatment by the state.”
In 2015, when challenging Ireland’s abortion laws, Lieven stated that making decisions about abortion should be handled by courts, not the executive branch, stating, “The respondent and the attorney general argue this is a matter which should simply be left to the executive, and they do to some degree rely on the fact that there has been a consultation process on changing the law on abortion. That argument is completely misconceived for a whole host of reasons. It's simply wrong in principle — there's a duty on the court to consider the question of compatibility, and the court cannot defer that consideration in the hope or expectation that the executive might change the law at some unknown date in the future."