Re P (abortion) [2013] EWHC 50 (COP), [2013] MHLO 1

(1) The solicitor who was one of P's deputies queried whether P had capacity in relation to whether to continue with her pregnancy or have an abortion. (2) Hedley J held that she manifestly lacked litigation capacity but did have capacity in relation to continuing the pregnancy. (3) Generally courts and health officials should not try to decide whether P would be able to bring up a child but should instead concentrate solely on whether the pregnancy itself is in her best interests (the reasoning being that once a child is born, if the mother does not have the ability to care for a child, society has perfectly adequate processes to deal with that). (4) The judge also stated that '[t]he purpose of [mental capacity legislation] is not to dress an incapacitated person in cotton wool but to allow them to make the same mistakes that all other human beings are able to make and not infrequently do'. [Summary based on press article; judgment now available.]


Case no: COP11984767

An NHS Trust v P

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Jerome Taylor, 'Woman with limited mental capacity can have her baby' (Independent, 10/1/12)

39 Essex Street Mental Capacity Law Newsletter#November 2013