In a story that is making headlines around the globe it has been revealed that a pregnant Italian woman who was in Great Britain for a two-week work training program was sedated against her will at the behest of Social Services and her baby was removed via caesarean due to concerns about her mental health after she suffered a panic attack. A judge later ruled that the child, now 15 months old, be placed for adoption, despite the mother having no further episodes and seemingly getting her life on track. She is now desperately trying to stop the adoption process.
The entire thing began after the woman, whose name has not been revealed, suffered a panic attack shortly after arriving in Britain. The “attack” was reportedly brought on when the woman could not find the passports for her two children, who remained in Italy with their grandmother.
Aware that she was having difficulty, the woman contacted police, who arrived at her hotel room as she was speaking with the grandmother on the phone. The police asked to speak with the grandmother who told them that her daughter had a “bipolar” condition and was probably just over-excited from the trip and from not taking her medication. From The Telegraph:
The police told the mother that they were taking her to hospital to “make sure that the baby was OK”. On arrival, she was startled to see that it was a psychiatric hospital, and said she wanted to go back to her hotel. She was restrained by orderlies, sectioned under the Mental Health Act and told that she must stay in the hospital.
She was in the hospital for five weeks when she was informed by staff that she could not have breakfast one morning, which of course had her concerned. From The Telegraph:
When no explanation was forthcoming, she volubly protested. She was strapped down and forcibly sedated, and when she woke up hours later, found she was in a different hospital and that her baby had been removed by caesarean section while she was unconscious and taken into care by social workers. She was not allowed to see her baby daughter, and later learnt that a High Court judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, had given the social workers permission to arrange for the child to be delivered. In October, at a hearing before another judge, she was represented by lawyers assigned to her by the local authority and told she would be escorted back to Italy without her baby.
Now the woman is in a multi-national legal battle attempting to stop the adoption. Her attorney in Great Britain, Brendan Fleming, told The Telegraph, “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.
“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 social services in Italy and for the child to have been taken back there.”
(It should be noted that the woman does have a history of “manic episodes” over the past few years, and during that time she has been in and out of hospitals.)
Lawyers for the woman have also raised the question of why her family was not consulted at all in the decision process. Also, they are upset that the British court turned down an offer from a relative of the woman living in America to take custody of the child.
“I have seen a number of cases of abuses of people’s rights in the family courts, but this has to be one of the more extreme,” says John Hemming, who chairs the Public Family Law Reform Coordinating Campaign. “It involves the Court of Protection authorising a caesarean section without the person concerned being made aware of what was proposed. I worry about the way these decisions about a person’s mental capacity are being taken without any apparent concern as to the effect on the individual being affected.”
This story has me absolutely speechless. I only hope there is a network (you listening Lifetime?) or a movie production company already putting together a documentary on all of this!