CS [2016] EWCOP 10 (22 January 2016)

Posted on Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Picture of Alan PickardThis was an application by a NHS Trust in respect of a young woman who was said to lack capacity and they sought an order that it would be in her best interests for her to undergo surgery to terminate her current pregnancy.

The facts were that the Respondent (represented by her litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) had 2 children already and was until Christmas 2015 in a relationship with the father of her youngest child. At this time she found out that she was pregnant but informed others including her sister that she did not wish to have another child by this partner and that she wished to have an abortion whist accompanied by her sister. She had previously undergone an abortion and was accompanied by her sister. It was alleged that the relationship gradually became violent and this was perpetrated by the partner.

Shortly after discussing the matter with the sister, the Respondent was violently assaulted by her partner as a result of which she suffered from a serious head injury comprising fractures, intracranial bleeding and brain damage. Her partner was arrested and the matter will be subjected to criminal proceedings. The injuries caused a profound effect on her and she lacked an insight into her condition.

The timescale for a surgical termination of the pregnancy became extremely critical and the NHS Trust issued an urgent application which sought an Order that the Respondent lacked capacity and that it was in the Respondent’s best interest for the pregnancy to be terminated.

Mr Justice Baker considered the facts and medical evidence from her consultant neurosurgeon, a consultant psychiatrist and a consultant obstetrician before issuing an Order which inter alia stated that: that the Respondent lacks capacity to consent to medical treatment, in particular to the termination of the pregnancy, coupled with a general anesthetic and ancillary treatment.

He went on to order and further declare that it is lawful and in her best interests to undergo termination of the pregnancy by surgical means and in the course of that process to undergo general anesthetic and ancillary treatment.

The full judgment can be read here

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