Human rights campaigners say the case of an enforced caesarean section on a pregnant Italian woman sounds like "dystopian science-fiction"
And an MP has vowed to raise the episode in Parliament.
Essex social services obtained a High Court order against the woman that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman, who was in Britain for work reasons, because she had suffered a mental breakdown, the newspaper reported.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty, said: "Please God there's more to this, but at first blush this is dystopian science-fiction unworthy of a democracy like ours. Forced surgery and separation of mother and infant is the stuff of nightmares that those responsible will struggle to defend in courts of law and decency."
The baby girl, now 15 months old, is still in the care of social services, who are refusing to give her back to the mother, even though she claims to have made a full recovery, it was reported.
Lawyers for the woman say the council should have consulted the woman's family beforehand and also involved Italian social services.
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming said: "I intend to raise this in Parliament. I need to speak to the lady tomorrow evening to find out how she wishes to proceed.
"I can't work out why they didn't send her back to Italy. Being in a psychiatric institution when you are without your medication in a foreign country is not a good experience to go through.
"There are considerable problems in the operation of the family courts. Part of the solution to that is greater public scrutiny, but also we need to make sure there is more independence in the evidence provided by expert witnesses, such as social workers."
An Essex County Council spokesman said: "Essex County Council does not comment on the circumstances of ongoing individual cases involving vulnerable people and children."