C-section mum: You stole my baby

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An Italian woman whose baby girl was taken into care after she was forced to have her delivered by Caesarean section has accused social workers of stealing the child.

Alessandra Pacchieri, 35, who suffers from bipolar disorder, is pleading for a "second chance" to prove she could care for the baby girl with the support of her family in Italy.

After she gave birth in August last year, the newborn child was taken into care by Essex social services. The child, now 15 months old and whose anonymity is protected by court orders, is expected to be adopted.

Ms Pacchieri, a care worker for the elderly from Tuscany, today condemned the court that allowed the process and accused social workers of "invading" her body and stealing her baby.

Yesterday it emerged that the Court of Protection granted an NHS trust permission for doctors to carry out the procedure last year "because of concerns about risks to mother and child".

Mr Justice Mostyn said he made the ruling after doctors responsible for her treatment told him that Ms Pacchieri risked rupture if she was to give birth naturally.

The lawyer for Ms Pacchieri - her maiden name - said the decision to force the baby, known only as P, to be delivered by Caesarean section was "absolutely unreasonable".

Stefano Oliva said she wanted a "second chance" to prove she could care for the baby girl with the support of her family.

Mr Oliva said the mother was permitted to see her baby once a week until the end of October last year , when she moved back to Italy to get support from her family.

After returning to her home country she came back to Britain once a month to visit the child. This arrangement stood until May this year when social workers told her it would be the last time she would see her daughter, he said.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Ms Pacchieri, a care worker for the elderly from Tuscany, said: "Your family courts and your social workers invaded my body and stole my baby. I believe that the British authorities planned to adopt my daughter from the very beginning.

"Something very unfair has been done to me. I am fighting to get my daughter back and I never want another innocent mother in your country to suffer as I have."

Ms Pacchieri is reported to have come to Britain whilst pregnant in the summer last year to attend a training course with an airline at Stansted Airport in Essex.

After she stopped taking medication she had a panic attack and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Ms Pacchieri told the Mail she was told to take medicine to control her depression, but refused as she was worried about warnings on the label that it could cause death to pregnant women or an unborn baby.

On June 13, 2012 she was detained as a mental patient after a successful application by the local health trust to the family courts, and Ms Pacchieri said she was terrified that doctors wanted to take away her baby, begging them to be allowed to return to Italy.

At the beginning of July she was transferred to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, where social workers told her her daughter was going into care when she was born, the Mail said.

On August 24 she underwent a Caesarean section after the health trust obtained a court order permitting it, and a second application was in place to allow the baby to be taken into care.

Ms Pacchieri said: "I begged them not to do the Caesarean. The due date was four days later and there was no reason for me to have such an invasive operation with anaesthetic. I wanted a natural birth."

She described how she was separated from her baby just a few hours after birth, and after three days was informed that she had been taken into foster care.

"They had stolen my baby from me," she said.

In February this year, Judge Newton, sitting at Chelmsford County Court, ruled that although Ms Pacchieri's condition had improved and she was "extremely well" when she gave evidence, adoption was the best way to provide "a permanent, predictable and stable home" for the baby. Essex County Council had argued adoption was "the only safe route".

After returning to her home country she came back to Britain once a month to visit the child. This arrangement stood until May this year when social workers told her it would be the last time she would see her daughter, her lawyer said.

Yesterday the judge revealed that the Italian government, or state, has now instructed solicitors and might want to intervene in the case.

The president of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has ordered that any further applications relating to the baby must be transferred to the High Court.

This is likely to include applications by Ms Pacchieri to block her child's adoption in the UK.

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