On Friday, a British court made a profoundly shocking ruling which seeks to force a woman with an intellectual disability to undergo a late-term abortion against her wishes.
You didn't misread that sentence. This forced abortion - of a 22 week unborn baby - is to take place in Britain, under the auspices of the National Health Service.
The pregnant woman doesn't want an abortion. Her mother, a midwife, says she will care for her daughter and the baby, but the court has dismissed that solution. A social worker familiar with the family also advised against an abortion, but the judge, who has a history of advocating for abortion, insists that the baby must be killed.
This is absolutely horrendous and a terrifying breach of human rights.
The judge, Nathalie Lieven, acknowledged that the woman doesn't want an abortion. She had the extraordinary arrogance to say that: “I am acutely conscious of the fact that for the State to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn't want it is an immense intrusion, but added “I have to operate in [her] best interests, not on society's views of termination."
She admits that she is ordering this woman to undergo an abortion. She admits it is an immense intrusion. But she is going to do it anyway, because you can literally get away with anything in a country where every abortion is a good abortion.
According to reports, the pregnant woman's mother is Nigerian and she says that the Catholic faith of herself and her daughter means that they are opposed to abortion.
This is a case of the worst kind of religious discrimination then, because the ruling would force this family to act in a way that is completely contrary to their religious beliefs. The Catholic church needs to speak out to protect this family now.
The pregnancy woman has an intellectual disability, and Justice Lieven serves in the Court of Protection, which deals with people who are held to lack the ability to make decisions for themselves. However, the court has never ruled that any person with a disability must be forced to take part in a procedure which ends a life: a procedure which they and their family oppose. This ruling also tramples on the rights of people with disabilities in a way that is deeply disturbing.
Justice Lieven said she thought the woman would suffer more distress if the baby was taken away than if pregnancy was terminated - even though the woman's mother and her social worker, who surely know her better, disagreed.
What does the judge imagine will happen next? How is a forced abortion carried out on a vulnerable woman who is 22 weeks pregnant?
Will she be strapped to the table while a surgical procedure dismembers her child? Or will she be sedated while an abortion is forced on her against her will?
The scenario is absolutely horrific. There should be a national and international uproar, and there likely would be except that the media are doing their damnedest to keep the whole thing as quiet as possible.
There hasn't been a word from Amnesty and it goes without saying that the silence from British feminists is deafening. After years of nonsense about 'Handmaid's Tale' scenarios, we now have a real-life case where a woman's body is subject to a legal order, but the so-called women's rights advocates have nothing to say. What about the right to choose, and preserving women's bodily autonomy? When a case is facilitating abortion, they don't seem to matter that much anymore.
Sources tell me that lawyers and other concerned citizens are working to see if an appeal is possible. We need to pray that they succeed.
As I noted earlier, Justice Lieven has form in this area: she previously argued in court that Northern Ireland’s ban on abortion amounted to torture, and led to inhuman and degrading treatment by the state.
Most sane and decent people would agree that ordering a woman to undergo an abortion amounts to some of the most inhuman and degrading treatment imaginable.
This ruling, authorising a forced abortion on a vulnerable person, is monstrous. It cannot be allowed to stand.