This blog post
Touch the image to read the gist in brief
Bipolar patient has capacity to decide to terminate pregnancy
about this judgment of the Court of Protection
SB (A Patient; Capacity To Consent To Termination), Re  EWHC 1417 (COP) (21 May 2013)
has set me thinking.
. . .
A tense, life-or-death, courtroom drama
Pitched against her own legal team, the mental patient, Mrs SB, had two psychiatrists, her mother, her father, her husband (presumably the baby’s father) and the NHS hospital in which she was sectioned, along with their various solicitors and barristers, all agreeing that she was “not thinking straight”.
Her baby was not legally represented in court. As the nice judge said, “the foetus has no independent rights which fall to be weighed or considered by me at all in these proceedings”.
Present (though hardly as a disinterested, mere spectator), was the enterprising would-be sub-contractor who had put in a last-minute bid to do the job, less than a week before the mother reached 24 weeks pregnant, and the baby’s life would have become untouchable. “A doctor employed by a well known body”, is how the judge described this potential beneficiary of the judge’s own hard day’s work, when the abortionist put in his own “hard day at the orifice”.
The abortion industry’s income, and love for humanity, have to weighed jolly carefully in the scales of justice nowadays
At 23 and a bit weeks, the foetus could perhaps be delivered alive, and would stand a chance of surviving. The slower the wheels of justice ground, the better the foetus’ chances of making it. But the court wasn’t “Thinking outside the botch” today. Nothing but death would suffice, for some reason. That was what was stipulated in the abortionist’s – er – contract.
The case would therefore need to be decided quickly. There was robust justice to be done. The judge didn’t start delivering his judgment until 8 o’clock in the evening. What a hero. Tomorrow might have been too late. They still had to find a second doctor to sign the death warrant, and time was running out. What if not even the “well-known body” could come up with a second signatory, who knew how to “weigh” stuff that “fell to be considered”?
Here is the gist of the UK Human Rights blog post’s summary of the court’s judgment:
The patient … was a 37 year old highly intelligent graduate… 8 years she presented with symptoms … of bi-polar disorder. She had been detained … at various times … These proceedings were issued … because the mother concerned was “very strongly” requesting a termination … It was clear from the patient’s own evidence that she herself did want a baby at the time that she conceived it. But after the first trimester had elapsed, in April, she started to show signs of her disorder and there was a “total reversal” in her attitude towards the baby …
The judge was prepared to take the unusual step of differing from the view of the psychiatrists that she would bitterly regret the termination. … The decision, with its risks of consequent regret, was one that the patient should be at liberty to take. The judge fully appreciated her situation, including the fact that she was currently compulsorily detained. … the Court … the judge has to consider whether the reasons for a decision are rational. This does not mean that they have to be good reasons, nor does the court have to agree with the patient’s decision…