Pregnant woman unaware child to be taken into care

A High Court judge gave social workers permission not to tell a pregnant mentally ill woman that her child would be taken into care at birth.

The woman, who is detained at a psychiatric hospital under the terms of mental health legislation, has since given birth to a boy.

Mr Justice Keehan made the ruling in May, but imposed reporting restrictions until after the child was born.

The child has been placed in foster care, the judge said.

'Real risk'

Details of the case emerged in a written ruling published by the judge following private hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

The judge did not identify anyone involved, but said the woman had "schizoaffective disorder".

Mr Justice Keehan also gave medics permission to restrain the woman after being told that she was unable to control her behaviour and might harm herself or her child if she became "obstructive" during labour.

The judge concluded there was a "very real risk" of the woman or child being harmed if she learned that social workers were planning to remove the baby from her care.

He said that the circumstances were exceptional and the reporting restrictions were the "only proportionate" course which could be taken to secure the safety of the mother and child.

It has been agreed that the mother could have regular supervised contact with her baby, the judge said.

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