Re SB (A Patient: Capacity To Consent To Termination) [2013] EWHC 1417 (COP), [2013] MHLO 48

SB's desire for an abortion coincided with her stopping her medication for bipolar affective disorder, which led to the Trust seeking decisions on capacity and best interests. (1) Even if aspects of her decision-making were influenced by paranoid thoughts in relation to lack of support from her husband and her mother, SB also had a range of rational reasons, and had capacity to make the decision. (2) Interesting aspects to the case include: (a) the judge disagreed with the two psychiatrists who believed SB lacked capacity; (b) he appeared to consider the question of being 'unable' to make a decision separately in relation to its ordinary meaning (whether SB had in fact made a decision, para 38) and its legal meaning by reference to MCA 2005 s3(1) (whether she could understand the relevant information etc, para 39); (c) the Official Solicitor asked for his appointment as litigation friend to be ended, and this request was granted (para 30); (d) the judge granted this request having accepted psychiatric evidence that this was a case 'where P ceases to be a person who lacks capacity to conduct proceedings himself but continues to lack capacity in relation to the matter or matters to which the application relates' (para 28, rule 147); (e) in relation to the threshold for capacity, the judge held that SB's decision to have an abortion 'is of course a profound and grave decision, but it does not necessarily involve complex issues' (para 44).


[2013] All ER (D) 278 (Jun)

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