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Council defends handling of forced caesarean case
Essex County Council has defended its role in the forced caesarean section of a mentally ill woman.
A health trust obtained a court order enabling the operation to be carried out on the 35-year-old, who is bipolar, after she suffered a panic attack and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Judge Newton at Chelmsford County Court ruled that adoption was the best way of providing a “permanent, predictable and stable home” for the child.
The baby, who is 15-months-old, is reportedly still in the care of Essex County Council but has two siblings in Italy being cared for by their grandmother.
Essex County Council said the woman, who cannot be named, was able to see her child on the day of its birth and the following day, but she was considered too unwell to care for the baby.
A council spokeswoman said: “In accordance with Essex County Council's Social Services practice social workers liaised extensively with the extended family before and after the birth of the baby, to establish if anyone could care for the child.
"The long term safety and wellbeing of children is always Essex County Council's priority.
"Adoption is never considered until we have exhausted all other options and is never pursued lightly."
Mental health charity Bipolar UK said many woman suffering from similar conditions become capable mothers.
A spokeswoman said: “The authorities should make every effort to consult with the family before decisions are taken.
“If there were continuing concerns about the care of the child, one would have thought Italian social services would have been involved in determining what was best for the child.
“Women with bipolar are at a high risk of becoming ill following childbirth but the majority of women recover fully, they manage the impact of the illness and they are good mothers.”
The Guardian is awaiting comment from Essex County Council with regards to their protocols in such cases.”