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Ex-judge defends ordering an abortion for woman

BOSTON - A retired Massachusetts judge is defending her decision to order a mentally ill woman to have an abortion and be sterilized against her wishes.

Christina Harms is also criticizing Boston University for withdrawing a job offer after her ruling sparked controversy and was overturned by the state Appeals Court.

Harms, who retired last month, defended her ruling in a letter she sent Monday to other Massachusetts family court judges, saying she believed the schizophrenic woman would have chosen to have an abortion if she had been mentally competent. The letter was first reported by The Boston Globe.

"I believed then, as I do now, that she would elect to abort the pregnancy to protect her own well-being," Harms told The Boston Globe. "She would want to be healthy."

However, the Massachusetts Appeals Court said the woman, who has schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had described herself as "very Catholic" and made it clear she did not want an abortion.

The Appeals Court reversed the order, saying no one had requested it and the judge "appears to have simply produced the requirement out of thin air." The judges sent the case back to the lower court.

Harms says BU withdrew a job offer soon after her ruling became public.

BU says Harms was not the appropriate candidate for a job that required interaction with students, alumni and the judiciary.

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