Tameside & Glossop AHT v CH [2006] 1 FLR 762 at 763

The hospital trust in this case sought a declaration from the High Court that the proposed plan to induce labour and perform a c-section delivery of the defendant’s unborn child was lawfully. CH had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia since 1983. In July 1995 she was admitted to the psychiatric wing of the hospital under s 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983, and there it was discovered that she was pregnant. During the course of the pregnancy the obstetrician found that there had been intra-uterine growth retardation of the foetus and took the view, confirmed by a second consultant, that if the pregnancy was allowed to continue the foetus might die in the womb. She wanted the baby and wished to care for it, but had the delusional belief that the treatment and advice given by the consultant obstetrician and the psychiatrist were malicious and harmful to the child. She was resisting treatment and lacked mental competency to consent to the proposed surgery. Her consultant psychiatrist was of the opinion that if the patient delivered a healthy infant she was likely to recover from her psychosis and be able to care for the child,

The High Court gave a declaration that the plan to induce labour and deliver a child by c-section against the will of the mother was lawful under s63 MHA (treatment not requiring consent) rather than under the common law doctrine of necessity.  The Court was satisfied that the mother’s diagnosed mental disorder had been adversely affected by the pregnancy (because she had been unable to take her medication) and that the proposed treatment (induction and c-section delivery) was necessary in order to manage her mental health needs as it gave the best chance of securing a healthy child which, her psychiatrist had confirmed, would improve her future mental state.

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