Judge attacks council over forced contraception plan

A judge has blasted a council over its plan to use the police to physically remove a woman with learning difficulties from her home and force contraceptives on her against her will.

Mr Justice Bodey warned that the controversial plan resembled “social engineering” and raised “profound questions about state intervention in family life”.

The Midland’s-based council, which cannot be named, claimed that the woman was unable to understand the consequences of not using contraception, or envision what was involved in raising a child.

Subject

But Mr Justice Bodey, who agreed that the woman had been coerced into not using contraceptives, cautioned against the authority’s plan to forcibly subject the woman, known only as Mrs A, to take contraception.

He also said that Mrs A’s social worker had warned that it would be a “horrendous prospect” for the 29-year-old to be “physically removed from the family home and taken to have contraception under restraint and anaesthesia.”

Justice Bodey added: “Whilst the issue of the use of force has not been argued out at this hearing I cannot, on these facts, presently see how it could be acceptable.”

Attacking

And the woman’s mother, who contacted The Daily Telegraph, said: “Social services should definitely be supporting her, not attacking her. I just think it’s unfair.

“I’m extremely sad that social services are not there to support her. My daughter is scared to death of them.”

The case arose after social workers expressed concern that the young woman, who has an IQ of 53, was being physically abused by her husband last year.

Forced

However, Mrs A’s mother insists that the couple are in a loving relationship.

The council also feared that Mrs A’s husband had forced her to stop taking contraception because he wanted a child, and they began Court of Protection proceedings to “protect her interests”.

Justice Bodey agreed that Mrs A’s decision to stop taking birth control was “not the product of her own free will”, paving the way for the council to make a further request for force to be used.

Prospect

David Hewitt, a specialist in mental health law at Weightmans, a firm of solicitors, said: “It seems from the judgment that, at least at the outset, the council thought it might need to have the police enforce an order that the woman take her contraceptive medication.

“That seems quite striking, yet because of the route the judge chose to take, it’s still in prospect.”

Mrs A already has two children who have been taken into care.

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