Bipolar woman wins High Court battle for right to have abortion

The 37-year-old said she no longer trusted her husband and didn’t want to be a single mother

A pregnant woman with severe mental health problems is expected to have an abortion after a High Court judge ruled that she was capable of making the decision.

The 37-year-old, who is almost 23 weeks pregnant and has bipolar disorder, said she would kill herself and her unborn daughter if he did not allow her to go ahead with a termination.

Her family and doctors said she was not in a fit mental state to decide to end the pregnancy, pointing out that before she was ill she wanted the child.

But Mr Justice Holman ruled in the Court of Protection that she "does have capacity to make a decision to request the consent to end her current pregnancy".

The woman, known only as "SB", is currently staying in a secure mental health facility, but appeared in court to make a direct plea to the judge. Her identity and the name of the health authority cannot be reported.

Justice Holman disagreed with the assessment of her doctors, mother and husband that SB was not capable of deciding and said it would be "a total affront" to her autonomy to say she could not.

He added: "The patient perfectly understands what's involved in a termination... she perfectly understands the finality of the event."

As he closed the proceedings, the judge reminded the woman that she would still make the final decision about the abortion. "Don't forget you can change your mind," he said, "You can make these decisions."

Her evidence in court, in front of journalists, was a rare occurrence for the Court of Protection, where patients do not ordinarily get a chance to speak on their own behalf. She appeared lucid and calm, only occasionally interrupting proceedings to disagree with witnesses.

When asked what she would do if the doctors forced her to carry the baby to term, she said: "I would seek to kill myself and the baby."

She believes she no longer has the support of her husband and that she is not well enough to bring up a child. The urgency in the case was due to the fact that SB is rapidly approaching the 24-week deadline for carrying out an abortion.

The woman, who was in work before having a mental-health relapse late last year, said she could not cope with bringing up a child. She told the judge: "With the situation I'm in, the idea of me having a baby is just crazy."

She has been sectioned several times over the last six years and treated for bipolar disorder and drug-induced schizophrenia. She has continued to use cannabis heavily while pregnant, including at the secure mental health facility where she is currently being held.

SB, who was visibly pregnant, pleaded with the judge: "I don't want to be a single mum, I don't want to share a baby with [my husband] and I think I'd be better off getting rid of the baby."

SB no longer trusts her mother or husband. She said she had initially been "more into" the idea of having a child than her husband but that she no longer wanted it because she could not cope and did not think she had his support.

Her family and doctors point out that the timing of this change of heart coincides with her stopping her prescribed medication, which she did to protect the unborn child.

But SB said that she "didn't really want to marry" her husband in the first place and that it "never really was a love relationship". She had married him, she said, partly because "he was undocumented and had no right to be in the country".

SB claims he threatened her with a knife, though her husband and other expert witnesses say it was the other way around. It was this incident which led to her being sectioned. Her doctors say she has assaulted her mother once and her husband several times.

SB also said she thought her husband was going to take the baby girl abroad, that he believes in female genital mutilation and that if their daughter was not a virgin before she married, she should be killed.

Her mother said that when she was ill, SB often became convinced that those close to her were persecuting her.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones