A Massachusetts appeals court has verbally skewered a judge who ordered that a mentally ill woman have an abortion against her will even if it meant she had to be “coaxed, bribed, or even enticed” into a hospital.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court this week overturned the ruling by Norfolk Probate Judge Christina L. Harms, who had also ordered that the 32-year-old woman, known as “Mary Moe,” be sterilized.
The appellate decision noted that Moe “has consistently expressed her opposition to abortion” and likely would “continue to do so if she were competent.”
The facts in the case are not in dispute, according to court documents. Moe, who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder, is a few months pregnant. She has been pregnant twice before: The first time she had an abortion; the second time she gave birth to a boy who is now in the custody of her parents. Between her abortion and the birth of her son, she suffered a “psychotic break,” and has been hospitalized numerous times for mental illness.
At a December hearing, the state Department of Mental Health asked a court to grant temporary guardianship of Moe to her parents. That would allow the parents, who were already caring for one child, to give consent to an abortion for their daughter. (Court documents do not mention who the father is.)
Harms approved the guardianship, finding that Moe was incompetent to decide on an abortion based on “several and substantial delusional beliefs” -– including that Moe mistakenly believed she had a daughter and that she had previously met the judge.
According to the appellate ruling:
The judge ordered that Moe's parents be appointed as coguardians and that Moe could be "coaxed, bribed, or even enticed ... by ruse" into a hospital where she would be sedated and an abortion performed.
“...the judge directed that any medical facility that performed the abortion also sterilize Moe at the same time ‘to avoid this painful situation from recurring in the future."
Moe’s court-appointed lawyer, Doug Boyer, appealed Harms’ decision.