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Agoraphobic mum-to-be can be forced to hospital for birth, court rules

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Medics can use force to take a pregnant woman who has agoraphobia to hospital to give birth, a judge has ruled.

The 21-year-old has an “overwhelming” fear of leaving her home, the Court of Protection in London heard.

She wants a home birth – unless there is an emergency. But the NHS wants her to have the baby in a “planned way” in hospital, due to the increased risks if she gives birth at home.

Judge Mr Justice Holman said his ruling was in the woman’s best interests.

He concluded that “proportionate” force could be used by specially-trained staff if she refused to leave home on a specified day near her due date.

The woman, who the judge said lived “far from London”, has barely left home in four years and had her scan at home.

The judge said the woman’s partner and mother thought she should give birth in hospital.

The woman and the NHS trust cannot be named for legal reasons.

‘Potential risks’

Mr Justice Holman said evidence showed there was a risk there could be a “catastrophe” if she had a home birth.

“I think you should go to hospital and have this baby,” he told the woman and her partner who watched on video link.

“It will avoid potential risks and disaster if something goes wrong. I think it is better than some awful rush job in the middle of the night.”

He added: “I know it will be an ordeal for you.”

Mr Justice Holman concluded that the woman’s agoraphobia meant that she did not have the mental capacity to make decisions about the birth of her baby.

Agoraphobia is a condition which may include fears of leaving a “safe” place, being left alone or in a situation where sufferers feel trapped.

People can seek advice from NHS Choices. their GP or the charity Anxiety UK.

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