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Monday, 30 October 2017

Vulnerable woman to be given contraception after baby conceived from 'probable rape'

Written by Brian Farmer

A woman with a severe learning disability who gave birth to a boy after probably being raped should be given contraception, a senior judge has ruled following a hearing in a specialist court.

Mr Justice Cobb decided that the woman should be given a contraceptive patch on a trial basis.

The judge said the woman son's had gone into foster care and that the contraception was aimed at guarding against a repeat pregnancy and its "associated trauma".

He indicated that he would review the case in April 2018.

The judge analysed the case at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered, in Leeds, and had been asked to decide what was in the woman's best interests.

He announced his decision in a written ruling.

Mr Justice Cobb, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said the woman is 21 but cannot be identified.

The judge said hospital bosses with responsibility for the woman's care asked him to consider whether contraception would be in her best interests.

He heard argument from lawyers representing doctors, social workers and the woman.

Mr Justice Cobb said another Court of Protection judge gave doctors permission to deliver the woman's baby by caesarean section.

He said the woman had been "wholly bewildered" by her "experiences of pregnancy" and "immensely distressed" when her son was removed from her care.

The judge said evidence showed that she was "extremely vulnerable" yet "very sociable".

He said she had a "significant impairment of the mind" and all involved agreed that she did not have the mental capacity to consent to sex or make decisions about contraception.

"It is in (her) best interests that a contraceptive patch be administered for a trial period of up to six months," said Mr Justice Cobb.

"I wish to make clear that this decision is about (the woman) and her best interests."

He stressed: "The decision is taken in the context of her unique situation."

The judge said his decision would not set a precedent for "all incapacitous and vulnerable women".

Barrister Debra Powell QC led the woman's legal team. She took instructions from staff at the Office of the Official Solicitor, who represent people unable to make decisions for themselves.

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