A High Court judge has ruled that a pregnant 13-year-old girl is capable of making her own decision about whether or not to have an abortion.
Mr Justice Mostyn was asked to decide on the case by health authority bosses, who wanted to be sure that the teenager had the “appropriate capacity” to make decisions about the pregnancy.
In a written ruling, following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, Judge Mostyn said: “I am completely satisfied that (she) has sufficient understanding and intelligence”.
“It will now be for her to decide what she wishes to do.”
Simon Calvert, spokesman for The Christian Institute, criticised the ruling: “This young girl is a victim on so many levels. Abortion is not the answer to her problems.
“How can anybody burden a child of 13 with responsibility for ending the life of her unborn baby?”
A psychiatrist who had interviewed the teenager gave evidence to the hearing.
The psychiatrist said that she wanted to have an abortion as “she felt that she could not cope with its continuance and it would stress her to a considerable degree”.
Judge Mostyn said the pregnancy was revealed after the girl’s grandmother had noticed a ‘bump’ a few weeks previously – tests showed the teenager was probably more than 20 weeks pregnant.
He added: “If she decides to continue with the pregnancy, then I am expecting that her family and, indeed, Social Services will need to give her considerable support and assistance”.
Judge Mostyn said that if the teenager were to have an abortion, it would be “an unpleasant and traumatic experience” and she would need family support.