She’s mentally disabled and pregnant. A UK judge has ordered an abortion

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UPDATE: A British appeals court has since overturned the order that would have forced a mentally disabled woman to have an abortion despite her wishes to keep the baby, according to the Wall Street Journal.


A UK judge’s ruling is being called “horrendous” by anti-abortion advocates, with even abortion rights supporters acknowledging how “heartbreaking” it is.

Per reports cited in the New York Times confirmed by a court rep, a mentally disabled woman in her 20s who’s 22 weeks pregnant has been ordered by Court of Protection Judge Nathalie Lieven to have an abortion.

Even though the woman wants to keep the baby, and her mother says she’ll care for it, the judge fears there’s risk due to the woman’s mental issues, doesn’t think she fully understands what taking care of a baby would entail, and isn’t confident the woman’s mother will fulfill her vow.

“I think [the woman] would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll,” Lieven said. The woman is said to have the mental capacity of a grade schooler, a mood disorder, and a “moderately severe” learning disorder.

She acknowledged a court-ordered abortion where the woman doesn’t seem to want it “is an immense intrusion,” but added she was ruling in the woman’s “best interests, not on society’s views of termination.”

Lieven also said if for some reason the baby ever had to be placed in foster care or adopted, it would be more traumatic for the woman in the long run.

Anti-abortion supporters say the decision is “horrendous,” with commenters on one Facebook page calling it “devastating,” “criminal,” and “awful.”

A rep for an abortion rights group says the case is “sad and complex,” but that “we shouldn’t undermine free, safe, legal abortion based on one difficult case,” per the Times.

Police are looking into how the pregnancy came about in the first place, per the Independent. The Catholic News Agency notes Lieven has appeared as an attorney in several court cases in which she’s argued for abortion rights. (Read more abortion stories.)

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