Essex social services sedate mentally ill mother for caesarean section
A woman has been forcibly sedated and has had her child removed by a caesarean section, after Essex social workers obtained an order from the High Court. The woman was deemed mentally ill, and her child was placed into care after the birth.
The Italian woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, came to the UK in July 2012. She had been training for work for an airline at Stansted Airport but suffered a panic attack. This happened after she allegedly stopped taking her medication for bipolar disorder.
After calling the police herself, she was taken to a psychiatric unit. She was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The woman claims that she had not been told about what was to happen and after 5 weeks at the ward, she was sedated. When she woke up, the baby had been delivered and taken into care.
Despite the woman’s claim that she has made a recovery, the Chelmsford Crown Court ruled for the 15-month-old child to stay in care after deciding that the woman might suffer another relapse.
The council claimed that it was acting in the woman’s best interest, but the case has now garnered international attention. Lawyers say that the family should have been consulted first, as well as Italian social workers.
The woman’s lawyer, Brendan Fleming, told the Sunday Telegraph: “I can understand if someone is very ill that they might not be able to consent to a medical procedure, but a forced cesarean is unprecedented.”
He also added that: “If there were concerns about the care of this child by an Italian mother, then the better plan would have been for the authorities here to have notified the social services in Italy and for the child to have been taken back there.”
The case will be raised in Parliament this week. Liberal democrat John Hemming says that this case is the most extreme example of abuse of people’s rights by the Family Court.