Friday 19 January 2018

Mentally ill woman's C-section 'in her best interests'

Alessandra Pacchieri (35) had already had two children delivered by caesarean section and doctors feared she risked serious complications if allowed to give birth naturally, a court heard
Alessandra Pacchieri (35) had already had two children delivered by caesarean section and doctors feared she risked serious complications if allowed to give birth naturally, a court heard

Claire Duffin, Nick Squires, Nick Allen and John Bingham

A judge agreed to allow doctors to deliver a mentally ill woman's baby by caesarean section against her will because of fears that not doing so would have put mother and child in danger, it emerged last night.

Newly released court papers reveal that Alessandra Pacchieri (35) had already had two children delivered by caesarean section and doctors feared she risked serious complications if allowed to give birth naturally.

An emergency sitting of the secretive Court of Protection in August last year was also given psychiatric evidence that she suffered "psychotic episodes" and "delusional beliefs" and lacked the capacity to decide for herself.

Last night the medical trust caring for her also broke its silence on the case to insist that it took the unusual step of applying for the baby to be delivered against Ms Pacchieri's will because she needed powerful medication which would have harmed her unborn child.

Ms Pacchieri, from Tuscany, can be named openly for the first time after a High Court judge refused a request from Essex County Council for a blanket ban on anything which could identify her. Her child, who is still in the process of being adopted, cannot be named.

The court papers also open up a direct contradiction between her legal team and the British courts.

Her Italian lawyer Stefano Oliva claims that the procedure was carried out prematurely, when she was just 34 weeks pregnant. But the court heard that she was just a day off her due date when the procedure took place in August last year.

Last night it emerged that the Italian government is poised to step in and has instructed its own legal team for a possible High Court challenge to the original decision for the baby to be adopted.

Ms Pacchieri, who is bipolar, came to Britain in mid-June 2012 for a training course at Stansted Airport when she suffered what her legal team insist was a "panic attack" which led to her being sectioned.

Ten weeks later, in late August 2012, the local health authority obtained an order enabling doctors to deliver the child by caesarean section while Essex County Council began proceedings which led to the girl being put up for adoption.

Despite a ruling in February that the adoption could go ahead, Ms Pacchieri is still fighting to get her child back and the final decision will now be taken by UK's most senior family judge.

After days of controversy over the case, Mr Justice Mostyn, the judge who authorised the forced caesarean, agreed to publish his judgment. It shows that the crucial factor was the fear that unless the baby was delivered by caesarean section there was a risk Ms Pacchieri would suffer a rupture.

Although the judge had no powers over the baby itself before the birth, he remarked: "I would have thought it was in (Ms Pacchieri's) best interests, that is, her mental health best interests, that her child should be born alive and healthy and that such result should be, if possible achieved, and such risks attendant should be avoided."

But the papers also disclose that social services actively sought to have police officers on hand to take the girl away at birth. He refused permission because it would be "heavy handed" and distressing to Ms Pacchieri.

A statement from North Essex Partnership NHS foundation trust said: "The application for the C-section was made to the Court of Protection by the Obstetricians to ensure the safety and well-being of both mother and baby." (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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