High Court judge gives permission for forced caesarean section on mentally ill woman

Doctors say the mother had stopped taking her diabetic medicine and had attempted suicide

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The Independent Online

A mentally ill woman gave birth to a baby boy on Saturday by a forced caesarean section after a High Court judge gave doctors permission to perform the urgent operation.

Mr Justice Hayden gave specialists working for the Royal Free London NHS Trust the go-ahead on Friday after concluding that the woman, who was 32 weeks pregnant and is diabetic, was unable to make a rational decision over how to give birth.

The judge said a decision "compelling" a caesarean section was "draconian", but concluded that the woman lacked the mental capacity to regulate her diabetic medicine and monitor her own intake of food and water.

At a hearing in the Court of Protection in London, which specialises in issues relating to the sick and vulnerable, trust officials said the woman, 32, was in an "unstable mental state" and that she could not be treated properly.

The court heard that the woman was thought to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and had attempted suicide. She has not been named.

Mr Justice Hayden said: "The decision to compel a caesarean section on an incapacitous woman who is mentally and physically ill is an extremely draconian one.

"Doctors do not embark upon this lightly. It occurs extremely rarely. It is one that the lawyers also take very seriously indeed."

The woman's husband also has mental health difficulties and had initially opposed a caesarean section but had changed his mind and agreed to the surgery.

Lawyers representing the trust said the baby had been delivered without any problem in the early hours of Saturday and that no restraint had been necessary.