HSE secures order allowing doctors to carry out C-section on prisoner with mental illness

The High Court heard that the lacks the capacity to make decisions regarding her own and her unborn infant's health
HSE secures order allowing doctors to carry out C-section on prisoner with mental illness

The HSE's application was supported by medical experts, the doctors in charge of her care, and the woman's court-appointed 'guardian ad litem'.

The HSE has secured High Court orders allowing doctors at a maternity hospital deliver by caesarean section the child of a heavily pregnant woman who is currently remanded in custody.

The High Court made the order after lawyers for the HSE said that the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, suffers from a mental health illness and lacks the capacity to make decisions regarding her own and her unborn infant's health.

The court heard that the woman, who is currently remanded in custody at an Irish prison, had not been co-operating with those treating her regarding her pregnancy.

She had refused to undergo any preliminary procedures such as ultrasounds, and had said that she did not want to undergo a C-section, and wanted to undergo a natural birth.

The woman had undergone a C-section some years ago when giving birth to one of her other children, the court heard.

Barry O'Donnell SC, for the HSE, told the court that the woman had been diagnosed as having a mental health illness which resulted in her lacking any insight into her situation, and any capacity to agree to treatment.

The woman is in the final stages of her pregnancy and is due to give birth soon, counsel said.

However, given her medical history, counsel said her doctors are of the opinion that to avoid the risk of serious injuries or death she should undergo a C-section in the very near future.

The HSE's application was supported by medical experts, the doctors in charge of her care, and the woman's court-appointed 'guardian ad litem'.

A very unusual situation

Counsel said that the situation the HSE had found itself in was very unusual, and added the Child and Family Agency were being kept informed of the situation.

The application came before Mr Justice Michael Quinn during Monday's vacation sitting of the High Court.

The judge, after considering evidence before the court, granted the HSE several orders regarding the woman, including allowing her doctors take whatever steps are necessary to treat the mother, including preforming a C-section, and the child.

The judge also granted the HSE orders allowing it to transfer the woman from the prison she is currently located, to the maternity hospital where she is undergoing treatment. The matter will return before the court next month.

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