Family Court Orders Pregnant Schizophrenic To Undergo Abortion and Sterilization, and How Best to Avoid Similar Court Orders

Mother has a Son. Mother’s parents have guardianship of Son.

Mother suffers from schizophrenia and is delusional.

And now Mother is pregnant. Only she refuses to accept that she is pregnant.

And her parents think she should have an abortion.

And, at trial, the Massachusetts family court agrees with them, and orders not only that Mother have an abortion. They also order that Mother be sterilized. Something no party in interest has even requested.

Mother is Catholic and describes herself in court as “very Catholic” and indicates she would never undergo an abortion.

The family court’s ruling at trial is grounded in avoidance of history repeating itself with Mother’s offspring. But it is also based on the fact that Mother will have to go off of her medications while carrying her fetus to term.

But the family court’s ruling was reversed on appeal. Because Massachusetts law requires that the court determine what the incapacitated person would choose if they were competent.

The appellate court finds that there was ample evidence that Mother opposed abortion and would have declined to have one.

A person can become incapacitated, legally incompetent- or even just unable to express their wishes – for themselves or for their minor children – in the blink of an eye.

The best way to protect yourself against what happened to Mother here is by being proactive while having capacity, competency and the ability to express your wishes.

Some of the tools available for that purpose include:

  1. a will

  2. living will

  3. medical power of attorney or health care surrogate or health care proxy

  4. designation of preneed guardian

  5. durable general power of attorney

  6. special needs trust or supplemental needs trust.

Everyone should really have each of these, but especially anyone with a minor child, and anyone with a disability or a disabling or potentially disabling condition, and anyone with a serious chronic illness or chronic condition.

Read more in this Boston Globe article: Disabled patients’ wishes ignored.