Vulnerable woman at centre of abortion case needs contraceptive device, court told

Doctors plan to fit a mentally-disabled woman who was at the centre of an abortion battle with a contraceptive device, a judge has been told.

The woman’s mother won a legal battle in June after doctors said a pregnancy should be terminated.

Bosses at an NHS hospital trust responsible for the woman’s care had asked a judge to let doctors perform an abortion.

Mrs Justice Lieven, who analysed the case at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered, in London, gave specialists permission to terminate the pregnancy.

But Court of Appeal judges overturned that ruling after the woman’s mother, a Catholic former midwife, mounted a challenge.

Another Court of Protection judge has now been given an update on the woman’s progress.

Lawyers representing hospital bosses responsible for the woman’s care have told Mr Justice Mostyn that she is due to give birth to a daughter in the next few weeks.

They said everyone involved had agreed that the best option was for the baby to be delivered by a planned Caesarean section.

Barrister Fiona Paterson, who leads the NHS trust’s legal team, told a follow-up hearing in London that doctors also wanted to fit a contraceptive device.

She said a Court of Protection judge would make decisions about contraception if agreement could not be reached with the woman’s mother.

Judges have heard that the “circumstances of the conception” were “unclear” and been told that police were investigating.

Mr Justice Mostyn said doctors were right to think about contraception.

Judges have been told that the woman, who is in her 20s, has the mental age of a child aged between six and nine and cannot make decisions for herself.

They have heard how she has been diagnosed with a “moderately severe” learning disorder and a mood disorder.

Three specialists, an obstetrician and two psychiatrists said a termination was the best option because of the risk to the woman’s psychiatric health if the pregnancy continued.

They said her behaviour could pose a risk to a baby.

Specialists also said the child might have to go into care and that taking a baby away would cause greater psychiatric harm to the woman than terminating her pregnancy.

The woman’s mother was against termination and says she can care for the child.

Lawyers who represented the woman also said she should be allowed to give birth.

A council social worker who works with the woman said the pregnancy should continue.

Lawyers said they thought the circumstances of the case were unique.

Judges have ruled that the woman, who lives in the London area, cannot be identified in reports of the case. They also said the NHS hospital trust which asked for a decision, and the council which employs the social worker, cannot be named because publication of their names might create an information jigsaw which could lead to the woman’s identity being revealed.

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