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Judge rules that agoraphobic pregnant woman can be forced into hospital

17th May 2021

This High Court case concerned a heavily pregnant 21 year old who, as a result of agoraphobia, had barely left her house for the past three years. Agoraphobia made her unable to attend antenatal appointments and scans. The doctors and midwives were worried she would not be able voluntarily to attend hospital even in an emergency and that a home birth would be unnecessarily risky. A hospital birth was what she, her partner and mother all wanted. Capacity was not in issue: inability to leave the house because of agoraphobia made the mother to be unable to make a decision about whether to give birth at home or in hospital.

The issue for the Court, balancing physical and psychiatric risks, was whether it was in her best interests to have force applied to get her to hospital for a planned delivery before she went into labour. Katie Gollop QC and Claire Watson were instructed by Jemma Gillson of DAC Beachcroft for the Trusts, argued that it was. Sophia Roper, instructed for the woman by The Office of the Official Solicitor, argued that it was not. Judgment will be published imminently.

Click here to see press coverage from the Guardian.

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