Wednesday 21 February 2018

Mentally impaired mum of six faces forced sterilisation

Mr Justice Cobb, examining the case, told lawyers he was dealing with a case of
Mr Justice Cobb, examining the case, told lawyers he was dealing with a case of "enormous gravity" (Getty/Stock)

Brian Farmer

A mother-of-six with learning disabilities could be sterilised after social services staff and medics have forced their way into her home and restrained her.

Health authority and social services bosses in London have asked a judge to authorise forced entry, "necessary restraint" and sterilisation.

They say such moves are in the best interests of the woman - who is in her 30s.

Officials acknowledge that the rulings they want are "extraordinary" but say the woman's health - and life - could be at "grave" risk if action is not taken.

Mr Justice Cobb examined the case last week at a two-day public hearing in the Court of Protection - where issues relating to sick and vulnerable people are analysed - in London.

The judge told lawyers that he was dealing with a case of "enormous gravity". He is due to deliver a ruling soon.

The judge was told that the woman's children had been taken from her care.

Specialists say she has physical health problems which could put her life in danger if she became pregnant again.

And they say she lacks the mental capacity to make decisions about treatment.

Health authority and social services bosses want the judge to declare that: the woman lacks capacity to make decisions under the terms of mental capacity legislation; declare that a "therapeutic" sterilisation is in her best interests - and authorise medics to sterilise her; to authorise her removal from home to a hospital; to authorise the deprivation of her liberty; and to authorise the use of forced entry and "necessary restraint".

Barrister Michael Horne, who is representing the interests of the woman, said the issues raised had nothing to do with "eugenics".

He said sterilisation was "therapeutic" and the most effective way of mitigating "grave risks" to the woman's health and life.

Mr Justice Cobb was told that the woman - and her partner - had repeatedly refused to co-operate or engage with medical and social services staff and a legal representative.

She had said she wanted to be "left alone".

Irish Independent

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