A HIGH Court judge has ruled that a 13-year-old girl is has the right to decide if she wants to terminate her own pregnancy.
The pregnant schoolgirl discovered she was pregnant after her grandmother noticed she had a “bump” a few weeks ago. Her grandmother took her for tests.
The teenage girl still lives at home with her parents.
Health authority bosses had asked Mr Justice Nicholas Mostyn to decide whether the teenager had the mental capacity to understand the options available to her.
After hearing evidence from a psychiatrist who had interviewed her, the judge found that she did.
The psychiatrist said that although she was “softly spoken” she was able to explain to him that her wish was to terminate the pregnancy as “she felt that she could not cope with its continuance and it would stress her to a considerable degree”.
The judge said it was for the girl to “decide what she wishes to do”.
Tests revealed the girl was probably more than 20 weeks pregnant when the case first went before the High Court as an emergency hearing in mid-March.
The local authority, which is in the North of England, was forced to seek a declaration that she had the capacity to make the abortion decision herself.
“I am completely satisfied that (she) has sufficient understanding and intelligence,” he said in his ruling.
“It will now be for her to decide what she wishes to do.”
The High Court ruling was required to ensure that doctors and the hospital could not be sued if they carried out the abortion.
If the girl was not able to understand the situation, the local authority would be allowed to terminate the pregnancy if doctors believed it was in her best interests.
The significance of this case to Australia is that foreign case law can at times be used as a persuasive precedent within Australian Court jurisdictions.
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