Judge in late abortion case linked to conservative Christian charity

(195 Posts)
HoleyGhost Fri 21-Sep-12 19:12:16

" A judge who criticised UK abortion policies while sentencing a woman to eight years in prison for performing her own abortion at a late stage in her pregnancy is one of at least five members of the judiciary with links to a Christian charity which has campaigned for more conservative abortion laws."

Thought this deserved a thread of its own.

runningforme Fri 21-Sep-12 22:28:15

Sorry *baby is, not babies

Juule Fri 21-Sep-12 22:28:17

According to the following in 2007 Maisha Mohammed received a 12 month suspended sentence in a similar situation.

Extrospektiv Fri 21-Sep-12 22:45:27

I wouldn't be a judge because I profoundly disagree with UK law in many areas, and I would not enforce such law no matter what- any more than I would not join a Saudi unit to enforce their laws on "promoting virtue and preventing vice". My conscience comes first, even if an authoritarian gov were in power and able and willing to put me to death for dissenting. For me, conscience over citizenship every ti,=me

Lynette- the jury's role is NOT to just apply the law of the land. Judges are required to do so: juries have a right to find the defendant not guilty NO MATTER WHAT if they believe a particular circumstance does not deserve criminal conviction, or if they find the law unjust in itself. This has helped to turn around injustice when Parliament has been slow ito in the past. I can certainly think of at least a dozen cases where I'd do that.

Rowanhart Fri 21-Sep-12 22:52:16

Personally at 39 weeks the baby had every chance of survival. Therefore I think it's murder and a mandatory life sentence should have been given.

I am pro choice when a foetus has no chance of survival.

Almandine Fri 21-Sep-12 23:33:30

Extrospektiv, I agree with you about being a judge.

SIL is a barrister and I just don't get how she can defend men accused of rape. I know innocent until proven guilty and all that, but I couldn't do it.

"I am pro choice when a foetus has no chance of survival." Pretty much sums up how I feel.

HolyAutumnGoldBatman Fri 21-Sep-12 23:48:23

I don't think the sentence was overly harsh so it doesn't concern me that the judge holds these views tbh.

lisaro Sat 22-Sep-12 00:44:54

Almondine if she is and you feel like that then why has she not explained to you? We need defence lawyers very much so that justice is seen to be done. A trial MUST be balanced legally. Speak to her. She does just as valid a job as the prosecution. And don't forget, some people are not guilty.

rhondajean Sat 22-Sep-12 00:51:26

If the facts I read about this case, that she was worried the child was her lovers and not her husbands, are correct then eight years is too short. This does not appear to me to be the act of a desperate woman who can't cope - but similar to the cheating men who try to cover their tracks any which way and don't care who gets hurt.

She also had plenty opportunity to secure a legal abortion, we live in a very liberal country.

And refusing to admit what has happened to the baby's body so it can be buried properly just seals it for me. Sorry.

I agree with the pp about keeping her in prison so she cannot get pregnant again at least. And I promise I am usually very liberal in my thinking. I can't get over this.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Sat 22-Sep-12 01:49:47

So what would the sentence have been if she had been convicted of murdering a baby?

Surely more than 8 years?

It seems appropriate to give a harsh sentence for the abortion given that the alternative is murder.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Sat 22-Sep-12 02:13:21

Judge says 15 years would have been the sentence:

www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/sarah-louise-catt-sentencing-remarks-17092012.pdf

She will serve an actual 4 years in prison.

weegiemum Sat 22-Sep-12 02:17:02

I think he was pretty lenient given the chance it was premeditated infanticide more likely than not.

Which charity is he linked to? Ive got a fair few conservative evangelical friends and acquaintances and would be interested to know who he is supporting?

SaraBellumHertz Sat 22-Sep-12 03:32:56

She was not charged, sentenced or convicted of murdering her baby and so this concept of he "murdering her child" is irrelevant to her sentencing.

She aborted a baby, something that under different circumstances (gestation/health) is quite legal and so 8 years seems extraordinarily long, not to mention pointless, even before one compares it to sentences for other crimes: you'd get less for most manslaughter's or rapes.

She clearly had a very troubled maternal history and I'm quite sure she needs some sort of help- what she did was hideous but i struggle to see what is achieved by a long prison sentence.

I have no doubt the sentence willbe reduced on appeal.

lisaro Sat 22-Sep-12 08:00:05

If she'd have been judged mentally incapable of making a sound decision regarding this, she would have been tried under those circumstances. Especially in such a high profile case I'm sure she was professionally evaluated. It's very hard to take, but sometimes evil happens.

Animation Sat 22-Sep-12 09:04:10

Not really understanding why the term 'aborted' is used when the baby was full term. Seems to me that labour was 'induced', and then somehow she let the baby die. We don't exactly how she did this. Historically when mothers have ever done this there is an assumption that they are stressed and not coping.

8 years seems extreme to me.

Animation Sat 22-Sep-12 09:11:01

I think the sentence may be a reflection of the judges beliefs on abortion.

ReallyTired Sat 22-Sep-12 09:21:15

That fact that she has concealed the baby's body makes you wonder what she did to that poor baby. We cannot jail a mother on the basis of conjecture.

The baby was not induced on impluse. It takes a fair amount of pre mediation to find and order drugs on the internet.

We have no idea what happened and the mother has refused to cooperate.

How would you feel if the mother had strangled the baby on delivery. The drug she took does not usually kill the foetus.

Its unlikely that she will serve 8 years. If she behaves herself she will be out after 4 years.

mellen Sat 22-Sep-12 09:23:57

We don't really know what happened do we, because she has refused to give an explanation. We don't even know for sure that the baby died, but she hasn't been willing to say what actually happened.

I think the sentence needed to be longer, she got off lightly!
The judge being a christian has no reflection on the case as the woman illegally terminated a fully grown fuetus not a 12 week pregnancy!!
She also buried the babys body, so only she knows what really happened and im guessing it wasn't good.
What she did was evil, and the term 'abortion' shouldn't even come into it, it was induced murder

meditrina Sat 22-Sep-12 09:31:31

The sentence was within guidelines (in so far as the maximum sentence is life) and the duration of gestation before the act must be a factor as the baby in this case was at term.

ReallyTired Sat 22-Sep-12 09:32:42

Whether she murdered the baby we will never know. She has certain obstructed the course of justice by refusing to reveal the whereabouts of the poor baby's body. Obstructing the course of justice is a jailable offense as well.

If she showed any remorse for what she had done then she would cooperate and tell the police where the baby's body is.

I feel we should respect the judge's decision as he is in pocession of all the facts. It is unfair to say that his views aren't valid just because he is a christian.

Plenty of non christians share his view that late term abortions are evil.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 22-Sep-12 09:44:17

Almandine I really don't think most people on MN think a woman should have a right to terminate a pregnancy at any gestation. When the subject comes up on here I think the majority think the current limit is about right.

Animation Sat 22-Sep-12 09:44:45

Yes I think the sentence is as much about her obstructing the course of justice.

Never heard of a mother getting a jail sentence for letting her baby die after it's birth or induced birth

edam Sat 22-Sep-12 09:50:52

It's irrelevant to argue about whether she killed the foetus. That has nothing to do with sentencing in this case. As Sarah says, 'she was not charged, sentenced or convicted of murdering her baby and so this concept of he "murdering her child" is irrelevant to her sentencing.' Foetus is the right word as there is no evidence that a baby was born alive. You cannot sentence someone on supposition, only on the facts, the law and the sentencing guidelines.

What we do know is that the judge ignored a previous relevant case, that he is a member of an organisation that is anti-abortion, that he criticized the legal provision of abortion in his remarks, and that he made up the sentence - having no regard to previous sentences for similar crimes. Clearly he tried, wrongly and illegally, to expand the reach of the law by sentencing her for the death of a live baby, something which is neither proven nor relevant given that is not the crime that she was charged with.

I hope she appeals and I hope the Attorney General makes it clear that judges' personal views on perfectly legal acts - he criticized the practice of legal abortion - have no place in sentencing.

edam Sat 22-Sep-12 09:52:49

But she was not charged with obstructing justice, so that is irrelevant. He had no power to sentence her for obstructing justice. I don't think it applies anyway, as there is no legal duty for an accused person to assist the prosecution by providing evidence against him or herself.

Animation Sat 22-Sep-12 09:57:17

Yes, I can't help but think the judge was personally really pissed off with this woman - and hence the tougher than normal sentence.

I also hope she appeals.

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