Doctors promised ‘new doll’ after forced abortion for disabled woman

After a Court of Appeal ordered that a woman with a learning disability must not be forced to have an abortion, it was revealed that the hospital had planned to give the disabled woman a doll as an apparent replacement for the baby whose life they were intending to end.

Barrister Fiona Paterson, who represented the NHS hospital trust with responsibility for the woman’s care, told the three appeal judges: “She was told she would go to sleep.”

“She would have an operation and when she woke up the baby would no longer be in her tummy. But she would get a new doll.”

Miss Paterson said the woman had already been given a doll which she played with.

She added that it was “thought to be in keeping with her current level of understanding of the pregnancy” and that doctors believed “the prospect of a new one might be very appealing to her”.

This is consistent with the Justice Lieven’s original ruling saying that the woman must be forced to have an abortion.

The judge said she did not believe the woman understood what it meant to have a baby.

“I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll,” Lieven said.

Clare McCarthy from Right To Life UK said: “There is no reason to think, from the information available, that this woman with a learning disability would not experience great distress and suffering were the life of her baby to be forcibly ended in the womb.”

“Children, and adults with learning disabilities, know the obvious difference between a baby and a doll – something which apparently Justice Lieven and the NHS Trust do not understand at all.”