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Judge defends decision in overturned forced abortion ruling

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The Judicial Update

March 14, 2012

Massachusetts: Retired judge Christina L. Harms is defending her decision to force a woman to have an unwanted abortion.[1] Harms made the ruling on January 6th, five days before retiring.[2] The Massachusetts Appeals Court overturned Harms' ruling on January 17th.[3]

The case involved a 31-year old schizophrenic woman, referred to in court documents as "Mary Moe." Moe's parents petitioned the court to have their daughter declared incompetent "and award guardianship to them for the purpose of consenting to the abortion." Mary Moe opposed the abortion, citing her Catholic faith. Harms granted the parents' request and ordered that Moe undergo a forced abortion. In addition, Harms ruled that Moe undergo forced sterilization. In the Appeals Court ruling that overturned Harms' decision, judge Andrew Grainger wrote that “no party requested this measure...and the judge appears to have simply produced the requirement out of thin air."[4]

In recent days, Harms has publicly defended her decision and blasted the Appeals Court ruling as "simplistic and unfair."[2] Harms, who was negotiating a possible job at Boston University Law School, was informed that she would not receive a job offer from the school. Boston University's general counsel, Erika Geetter, said "This matter therefore has nothing to do with academic freedom, judicial independence, `blacklisting,’ or `threats to a cornerstone of our constitutional system.’ Instead, it has everything to do with the School’s legitimate conclusion that it did not want to worry about whether an individual who was at the center of a controversy would need to overcome that obstacle when serving as the public face of the School."[1]