BY Peter Diamond | June 28 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Questions for NHS after court bid to force woman’s abortion

Scottish bishop led campaign against decision which was reversed this week

The NHS has come under fire after it took a mentally disabled woman to court to try and force her to have an abortion, against her wishes and those of her mother and social worker.

The move, which was originally upheld by a court, was condemned by a Scottish bishop and made international headlines, before the decision was reversed on appeal.

Mrs Justice Nathalie Lieven imposed the original decision on June 21 in the Court of Protection in England, which hears cases involving the legal and personal affairs of people judged to have diminished mental capacity.

The woman, who has not been identified, is reportedly in her 20s, is of Nigerian descent, and is reported to have the mental age of a six to nine year old. Both she and her mother are Catholic, and the court heard that they objected strongly to the abortion on religious grounds.

The woman’s mother, who is a midwife, has offered to care for her grandchild and said the doctors have ‘underestimated her [daughter’s] ability and understanding.’

In a decision reportedly reached on June 24, the English Court of Appeal (above right), consisting of Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, overturned the previous ruling of the Court of Protection.

When the initial decision to force the abortion was announced, Bishop John Keenan of Paisley Diocese issued a video message through March for Life UK pleading for Catholics to sign a petition against the forced abortion and called for the UK Government health secretary Matt Hancock to intervene and stop the abortion.

Power of prayer

Bishop Keenan credited the ‘power of prayer’ for helping reverse the decision this week.

“I was immediately delighted at the decision to overturn the abortion,” he told the SCO. “There was genuine joy I think at something so good being protected because now a baby is going to live and can be held in the mother’s arms and the world will be a better place for it.

“I think there were 70,000 signatures on the petition and of course the power of prayer was evident in the victory too. When so often the pro-life movement is on the back of defeats, it really was a great joy to be victorious.”

Bishop Keenan added that it appeared as if the medical officials had ‘disregarded’ the view of the social experts on a social issue.

“I would say this abortion was nothing to do with medical grounds, as there was no evidence to suggest so because both the mother and child were healthy,” Bishop Keenan said. “This abortion was a social calculation and it appears that the medical view was overriding the social view on a social issue, which is really interesting.

“I don’t think this kind of situation has ever happened before and it really is a downward turn and quite a development if that is the case.”

The bishop also supported comments from a Conservative MP who compared the original decision with forced state abortion in China.

He added: “Thankfully it appears as though the attempt to push another door open on this issue has been closed for now but it will be very telling to find out exactly how the three judges came to their decision, which they are due to release at a later date.”

Cruel and barbaric

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) Scotland also welcomed the verdict by the Court of Appeal.

John Deighan, SPUC Scotland CEO, said: “This is amazing news. The initial decision to perform an abortion on a disabled woman against her will, when her mother had promised to look after the child, caused shock and outrage around the world.

“A forced abortion is one of the worst things that can be done to a woman, and it beggars belief that a judge of this land advocated this kind of cruelty and barbarity.

“We rejoice that common sense and basic decency has prevailed, and the mother and baby have escaped this appalling fate.
“The attention must now turn to giving this family all the support they need in an undoubtedly difficult situation. Serious questions must now be asked about how this decision happened, and the country will need assurances that this will never happen again.”

Anthony Horan, director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, said the appeal result was the ‘correct decision.’

“Ridiculous that it got to this stage, but grateful all the same that this little baby’s life has been preserved,” he said on social media.

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