UK

Baby Born After Judge Approves Forced Caesarean For Mentally-Ill Woman

01/02/2014 08:37 GMT | Updated 01/02/2014 08:59 GMT
Steve Debenport via Getty Images

A mentally-ill woman who has diabetes today gave birth to a boy after a High Court judge had given doctors at a London hospital permission to perform an urgent Caesarean section, lawyers said.

The judge had said a decision "compelling" a Caesarean section was "draconian" - but he said he had heard evidence that the woman's life might have been in danger.

"Doctors do not embark upon this lightly. It occurs extremely rarely," he told the court.

Mr Justice Hayden gave specialists working for the Royal Free London NHS Trust the go-ahead to perform surgery after concluding that the woman lacked the mental capacity to make decisions at a hearing in the Court of Protection in London late on Friday.

Lawyers representing the trust today said the baby had been delivered without any problem in the early hours and the woman had hugged a surgeon after recovering consciousness. They said no restraint had been necessary.

He said he had concluded the woman, who is 32 and was 32 weeks pregnant, lacked the mental capacity to make decisions about whether or not to have her baby delivered by Caesarean section.

Trust officials had applied for permission and said doctors thought an urgent Caesarean section necessary so that the woman's "unstable mental state" could properly be treated.

One specialist told the judge that the priority was "keeping this woman alive".

He heard that she was thought to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and had attempted suicide.

The judge said neither the woman nor the hospital could be identified. But he said the health authority could and should be named. The scrutiny of doctors' conduct could only "serve to reassure public confidence".

The Court of Protection is part of the High Court and analyses issues relating to sick and vulnerable people.

Doctors were not given permission to use force or restrain the woman.

Medics thought that the woman could be persuaded to agree to sedation and did not think that force or restraint would be needed, said the judge.