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Massachusetts court overturns decision ordering abortion, sterilization

Catholic World News - January 18, 2012

A Massachusetts appeals court has struck down a lower court decision ordering a pregnant 32-year-old schizophrenic woman to undergo an abortion and sterilization.

Judge Christina Harms of the Norfolk Probate and Family Court had ruled that the woman would have chosen an abortion if she were competent, ordered her sterilized, and ordered the woman’s parents--who favored the abortion--to be named the woman’s guardians so that they could consent to the abortion and sterilization.

The judge added that the woman--who describes herself as “very Catholic” and opposes the abortion--should be “coaxed, bribed, or even enticed’’ to have the abortion. Judge Harms retired shortly after issuing the decision.

In overturning the decision, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that “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.”

A Boston Herald story on the case recalls that in the past Massachusetts has seen leading mental-health authorities advocating abortion and sterilization for those who are deemed unfit:

Massachusetts historically led the way in the movement to sterilize or incarcerate the mentally ill to prevent them from breeding--inadvertently inspiring Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s own eugenics agenda.

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  • Posted by: Cornelius - Jan. 18, 2012 12:44 PM ET USA

    A good final decision by the court, but perhaps not for the best of reasons. The court tended to absolutize the "decision to bear or beget" in the individual, thereby bolstering one argument the abortion lobby claims for a "right" to abort, whereas a better rationale would have referenced the State's obligation to protect the lives of innocent persons, especially in cases where the mother cannot due to competence concerns.

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