Judge gives doctors go ahead to perform C-section on woman with mental health difficulties

A judge has given doctors the go ahead to perform a caesarean section on a heavily pregnant woman with mental health difficulties.

The woman, in her 30s and detained under mental health legislation, wants to give birth naturally.

But Mrs Justice Judd concluded that a planned caesarean section is in the patient’s best interests.

The judge made her ruling at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who might lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered, in London on Tuesday.

She said the woman, who is in hospital in London, cannot be identified in media reports.

Bosses at two trusts – the King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust – are responsible for the woman’s care and asked the judge to decide what is in her best interests.

A barrister representing the two trusts told Mrs Justice Judd the woman suffers from “bipolar affective disorder” and has an “emotionally unstable personality disorder”.

Neil Davy said specialists believe attempting a natural birth might pose “substantial risks” given the woman’s “acute behavioural disturbance”.

He said doctors think a planned caesarean section is best for her.

Mrs Justice Judd, who also oversees cases in the Family Division of the High Court, agreed and said a planned caesarean section will pose “much less” of a risk to mother and child.

She ruled the woman lacks the mental capacity to decide for herself and said doctors can lawfully operate.

The woman was represented at the hearing by staff from the office of the Official Solicitor, which helps vulnerable people embroiled in litigation.

Mr Davy told the judge the woman has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital at least 17 times in the past decade.

Her most recent admission was in April when she was pregnant, he said.

He told Mrs Justice Judd the unborn child is subject of a child protection plan.

Mr Davy said council social services bosses will ask a judge to place the child in foster care.

“The care plan envisages that (the woman) will not be able to hold the baby after birth because this would not be safe,” he told Mrs Justice Judd.

“The relevant local authority has been notified of this hearing and the unborn child’s social worker has been involved in care planning.”

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