Archive for Court Order

Eugenic Secret Courts in UK can order sterilizations and abortions

Posted in Abortion, Eugenics, forced abortion, Forced Sterilization with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2010 by saynsumthn

Secret Court of Protection can order abortions and sterilisations of mentally ill patients
A secretive court, which ruled that a cancer sufferer must have treatment against her wishes, can order that mentally ill patients are sterilised, undergo abortions or have life-support switched off.

By Martin Beckford , UK Telegraph, 28 May 2010

The Court of Protection, which until earlier this month held all its cases behind closed doors, has the power of life or death over those judged to be incapable of making decisions about their health.

It can even impose “experimental” treatments on patients without their consent and choose how to resolve an “ethical dilemma in an untested area”.

There are growing fears that the Court, whose jurisdiction was expanded greatly by Labour, has been handed sweeping powers without adequate scrutiny and openness.

In previous decades, health authorities and councils were able to ask judges to rule that people in their care with severe learning difficulties should undergo sterilization or have terminations if they believed it was in their best interests.

The courts were asked to decide on the right course of action as a doctor could face accusations of negligence if they failed to treat a patient who could not give consent, or assault if they acted without permission.

The High Court cases, fraught with ethical problems, were held in public and could be reported by media.

Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 the Court of Protection – which previously only dealt with the financial affairs of those judged by psychiatrists to lack mental capacity – was given the power to decide on medical treatments.

This move was intended to close a loophole identified in the earlier cases, in that it was unclear if any body or individual had the authority to take healthcare decisions for incapacitated adults.

But it was made clear that cases dealt with under the new powers would not be open to scrutiny, departing from the general principle of open justice held by other courts.

The Court of Protection Rules 2007 state: “The general rule is that a hearing is to be held in private.”

Separate documents published by HM Courts Service spell out that the Court of Protection is able to take life-or-death decisions on behalf of those lacking mental capacity, including withdrawing treatment if they are in a coma or preventing them from having babies through abortion or sterilisation.

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