The Sunday Telegraph is reporting that a baby was removed from a woman’s womb following a High Court order in August 2012.
The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman, an Italian who was in Britain on a work trip, because she had suffered a mental breakdown.
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.
The woman cannot be named for legal reasons.
She came to Britain in July last year to attend a training course with an airline at Stansted airport, and was taken to a psychiatric facility after a panic attack. Her relations believe it was due to her failure to take regular medication for an existing bipolar condition.
She was allegedly not told of the plans. The women’s lawyers say Italian social services should have been informed. One is quoted:
I have never heard of anything like this in all my 40 years in the job.
I can understand if someone is very ill that they may not be able to consent to a medical procedure, but a forced caesarean is unprecedented.
A statement of facts has been released by Essex County Council.
It makes for very interesting reading. It details the legal proceedings in the case over the past 15 months.
The Health Trust had been looking after the mother since 13 June 2012 under section 3 of the Mental Health Act. Because of their concerns the Health Trust contacted Essex County Council’s Social Services.
Five weeks later it was the Health Trust’s clinical decision to apply to the High Court for permissions to deliver her unborn baby by caesarean section because of concerns about risks to mother and child.
The mother was able to see her baby on the day of birth and the following day. Essex County Council’s Social Services obtained an Interim Care Order from the County Court because the mother was too unwell to care for her child.
Historically, the mother has two other children which she is unable to care for due to orders made by the Italian authorities.
In accordance with Essex County Council’s Social Services practice social workers liaised extensively with the extended family before and after the birth of the baby, to establish if anyone could care for the child.
If the statement is accurate it suggests the Telegraph’s initial description of “something of a panic attack” was an understatement.
It also suggests that it was not social workers but the Health Authority that made the application, and that the mother may well have been able to see the baby after delivery.
The adoption judgement in the case is now available to read here. It makes for harrowing reading.
Hemming will raise the issue in parliament as he chairs the Public Family Law Reform Coordinating Campaign. In the blog he writes:
In essence families count for nothing in the modern family court. The “best interests of the child” are “paramount” which means that what the social workers say goes. If a social worker does not say what the management want then the social worker can be fired as had happened. There is no independence in the system and family ties carry no substantial weight.