Court Nixes Order for Mentally Ill Woman's Abortion

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A Massachusetts appeals court has overturned a decision by a family court judge who ordered a mentally ill woman to have an abortion and be sterilized.

The family court had decided that the 32-year-old woman, who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was not competent to decide whether to have the baby.

But on Tuesday the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed the order, saying the deeply Catholic woman had clearly expressed her opposition to an abortion.

The court also said the family court judge had overstepped her bounds.

"The personal decision whether to bear or beget a child is a right so fundamental that it must be extended to all persons, including those who are incompetent," the opinion stated, citing a 1982 ruling by the state's Supreme Judicial Court.

"No party requested this measure, none of the attendant procedural requirements has been met, and the judge appears to have simply produced the requirement out of thin air," Appeals Court Judge Andrew Grainger wrote.

The woman, who was not identified by the court, is believed to be five months pregnant.

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