Essex: Forced Caesarean for mentally-ill mother “absolutely unreasonable” says lawyer

Thursday, December 5, 2013
9:14 AM

The decision to force a mentally ill mother-to-be to have her baby delivered by Caesarean section was “absolutely unreasonable”, her lawyer has said.

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Stefano Oliva said the unnamed woman wanted a “second chance” to prove she could care for the baby girl with the support of her family.

The Italian woman, who suffers from bipolar disorder, is reported to have come to Britain whilst pregnant to attend a training course with an airline at Stansted Airport.

After she stopped taking medication she had a panic attack and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The Court of Protection took the unusual step of giving a health trust permission for doctors to carry out a Caesarean section in August last year, and the newborn child was taken into care by Essex social services.

Mr Oliva said the mother was permitted to see her baby once a week until the end of October, when she moved back to Italy to get support from her family.

After returning to her home country she came back to Britain once a month to visit the child. This arrangement stood until May this year when social workers told her it would be the last time she would see her daughter, he said.

In February, Judge Newton, sitting at Chelmsford County Court, ruled that although the mother’s condition had improved and she was “extremely well” when she gave evidence, adoption was the best way to provide “a permanent, predictable and stable home” for the baby. The council had argued adoption was “the only safe route”.

The case drew wide publicity, even though it was heard in private. The president of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has ordered that any further applications relating to the baby, known only as P, must be transferred to the High Court.

“I do not understand why my client has been forced to have a Caesarean section. It is a very unusual statement to be issued by a judge,” Mr Oliva told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“From my point of view this decision is absolutely unreasonable.”

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