Woman detained under Mental Health Act can make abortion decision – judge

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A pregnant woman detained under mental health legislation is capable of deciding to have an abortion even though doctors say such a decision would not be in her best interests, a judge has ruled.

Judge Carolyn Hilder questioned the assessments made by specialists who concluded that the woman did not have the mental capacity to consent to a termination of pregnancy.

The judge said the clinicians may not have agreed with the woman’s reasons for seeking dismissal, but said their disagreement did not support a finding that her decision-making was “incapable”.

She outlined the details of her decision in a written decision posted online after analyzing the evidence during a hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who may not have the mental capacity are heard. to make decisions for themselves, in London.

The judge said the woman – who is in her 30s, more than 20 weeks pregnant and has been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder – could not be named in the media on the case.

She said the woman was being cared for by Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust.

But John McKendrick QC, who represented the woman, said there was “no sufficient evidence to rebut the legal presumption of capacity”.

Judge Hilder ruled in favor of the woman.

The judge said it was ‘very far from clear’ that the woman had been told she was being assessed when she met two specialists.

She referred to an ‘unsatisfactory approach’ and said: ‘There is nothing in the written records that clearly identifies the information that (her) treating clinicians considered relevant to the process of (her) decision to abort.”

Judge Hilder added: ‘Clinicians may disagree with (his) reasons for seeking dismissal.

“They are free to disagree, but their disagreement does not justify the conclusion that (his) decision-making is incapable.

The judge continued: “Even if some aspects of her weighing are influenced by the symptoms of her diagnosed condition, I am not convinced that she (she) is unable to use or weigh the relevant information to make a decision regarding termination of her pregnancy.

“On the contrary, in my view, she demonstrates the application of her own values ​​to the decision in question.”

She said she made a statement that the woman had the “capacity to consent to a termination of pregnancy”.

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