Forced Contraception and the Mental Capacity Act

In August 2010 a disturbing case came to trial, involving a woman, known as Mrs A, said to suffer from a long term learning disability. A council had planned to force contraception upon Mrs A, who has an IQ of 53, which puts her in the lowest percentile of adults of her age. Mr Justice Bodey called it “a horrendous prospect, that had shades of social engineering”.

Human rights

The court heard how Mrs A had two children removed from her care at birth prior to marrying her husband Mr A, who has been accused of violence towards her. Although overruled, the case does bring into question state power and the capacity to decide. The mental Capacity act was adopted by Parliament in 2005, and came into effect in 2007. If you have mental capacity, then you enjoy an absolute right to refuse medication or treatment. if you are found to lack mental capacity, then the state can intervene to protect your best interests. However, under what circumstances does an individual have the capacity to make his or her own decisions? The Mental Capacity Act established the framework under which this question is answered. It is a question that will be of huge debate, with any answer being one of controversy. We here at Mental Healthy would love to hear your views on this or any other news story. 

Published in Uncovered Magazine October 2010 issue 1


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