“The Official Solicitor observes that P is considered capacitous in all the areas in which she is willing to take that [medical] advice; it is only where she is not willing to follow medical advice that she is considered to lack capacity”.
The right of a capacitous pregnant person to make their own medical decisions unfettered by any consideration for the life or health of the foetus they carry has been enshrined unequivocally in UK law. As Judge LJ emphasised in the Court of Appeal in St George’s NHS Trust v S, pregnancy does not reduce a competent patient’s right to make decisions about their medical treatment, and a capacitous pregnant patient therefore has the right to make a medical decision that might cause death or serious injury to the foetus, however repugnant such a decision might seem to onlookers.
There was no evidence before the court about the extent to which mothers with agoraphobia (or other conditions) are in fact resistant to obtaining medical intervention in the midst of labour if advised that it is necessary to ensure the safety of themselves or their baby. In so many of the cases about mode of delivery that come before the court, the concern of the health professionals is that there will be lack of compliance in labour. Yet in most cases, the babies are born without resort to force or the authority of the court order.