A woman with a phobia of doctors should undergo a caesarean section, the High Court has ruled.
The unnamed woman was in her 20s and lived in the south of England. Originally from a tribal community in Africa, she bore ritual scarring her doctors reported, and was also a suspected victim of female genital mutilation. In addition she had been diagnosed with learning difficulties.
As her pregnancy advanced, doctors treating her worried about her ability to give birth naturally and pushed her to consider a safer caesarean section, an option which would help them to manage the stress and physical pain of birth.
But the woman was also burdened by a “phobia of all medical and health professionals” and would not cooperate, insisting that she wanted to give birth at home.
With the support of her parents, the NHS Trust treating her sought permission to proceed with the caesarean against her wishes. It applied to the Court of Protection, a branch of the High Court which makes rulings on behalf of vulnerable people who are thought to lack ‘capacity’ – i.e. are unable to make decisions about their own best interests or welfare because of disability or dementia.
Mr Justice Baker approved the doctors’ application yesterday. The woman clearly had moderate learning difficulties he explained, and he was satisfied that she lacked the ability to make her own decisions. A caesarean would therefore be in her best interests, with the use of reasonable restraint if required. He would explain his reasons in a judgement to be published at a later date, the Judge noted.
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