An English High Court judge has granted permission to doctors treating a severely mentally unwell woman to perform a Caesarean section, following an emergency hearing last week.
Mr Justice Hayden sitting at London’s High Court ruled that whilst the order was draconian, it was a necessary and proportionate interference with the woman’s human rights and that the mother’s life may be in danger.
Clinicians treating the woman told the Court of Protection (a branch of the High Court in England that deals with vulnerable adults who lack capacity) that their priority was “keeping this woman alive”.
The night before the hearing last week the hospital made an ‘out of hours’ emergency application to a duty judge. That judge, Mr Justice Moor, ruled that the matter should be heard the following morning given the woman wasn’t in labour and also to allow time for the mother to be represented by counsel.
At the hearing last week the court heard how the woman who is thought to have paranoid schizophrenia, had refused to eat and tried to commit suicide during the night.
Mr Justice Hayden opined in his ruling that: “The decision to compel a Caesarean section on an incapacitous woman who is mentally and physically ill is an extremely draconian one… Doctors do not embark upon this lightly. It occurs extremely rarely. It is one that the lawyers also take very seriously indeed…I am perfectly satisfied that at the moment [this woman] is not able to make any reasoned evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of a Caesarean section.”
The judge also found that the woman lacked the mental capacity to control her diabetic medicine.
The woman gave birth to a baby boy hours after the judge’s ruling.