Intended for healthcare professionals


Appeal court rules against compulsory caesarean sections

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 05 April 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:993
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. BMJ

    The courts cannot authorise doctors to perform caesarean sections or other obstetric interventions on mentally competent women against their will, the Court of Appeal in London ruled last week, in a landmark judgment on the rights of pregnant women to refuse treatment.

    The court confirmed that a competent woman has the absolute right to refuse intervention, even if she puts her own or her unborn child's life or health at risk. The court has no jurisdiction to sanction an operation to protect a fetus.

    The ruling will help to allay concerns over the growing number of caesarean sections ordered by the courts in Britain. The High Court in London has sanctioned some half dozen operations in the last year after emergency …

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