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Forced contraception plan condemned

A council's plan to force contraception upon a woman with a low IQ was "essentially a horrendous prospect" that has "shades of social engineering", a judge has said.

Mr Justice Bodey said he could not see how it could be acceptable for the court to impose contraception "by way of physical coercion".

He said the local authority's plan, to stop the 29-year-old woman having more children, "would raise profound questions about State intervention in private and family life".

The judge's decision was published by the Court of Protection, which has jurisdiction over the property, financial affairs and personal welfare of people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves, last month.

The council, which also cannot be named, originally wanted to force contraception on a married woman who has an IQ of 53. Fears that she would not be able to look after her children have already led to social services putting the two children she already has up for adoption, the court heard.

But her husband, a man with an IQ of 65, was accused of using "violent and bullying behaviour" to stop her taking contraception because he wanted a baby, so the council began court proceedings to "protect her interests".

Mrs A's social worker said the pair would not co-operate with anything involving coercion and admitted "there would need to be police involvement" for her to be "physically removed from the family home and taken to have contraception under restraint and anaesthesia".

It was "essentially a horrendous prospect", the judge said.

"It is obvious, on the facts of this case, that any step towards long-term court-imposed contraception by way of physical coercion, with its affinity to enforced sterilisation and shades of social engineering, would raise profound questions about State intervention in private and family life.

"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."

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