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Woman with learning difficulties pregnant after being raped, judge hears

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A general view of The Court of Protection in central London. PA/Nick Ansell

Police and social services bosses have begun investigations after a woman with “significant” learning difficulties who requires constant supervision was raped and made pregnant.

Detail of the case has emerged at a hearing in the Court of Protection when a judge approved a hospital plan to deliver the baby by Caesarean section.

Mr Justice Poole heard that the woman, who does not have the mental capacity to make decisions about sexual relations and does not understand that she is pregnant, lived in the community under a “care package”.

He was told that social services bosses had begun a “safeguarding investigation”, and police were trying to find the father of the unborn child, and described the case as “disturbing”.

The judge heard evidence at a virtual hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves are considered, on Thursday.

He said the identity of the woman, who is in her 30s and lives in the south of England, could not be made public.

The judge also ruled that neither the council with responsibility for the woman’s welfare, nor the police force involved, could be named in media reports in case those details created an information jigsaw which revealed the woman’s identity.

A barrister representing doctors caring for the woman, said the woman had “significant learning disabilities”, lacked the mental capacity to make decisions about medical treatment and therefore must have been raped.

“The unborn child was conceived in very worrying circumstances,” Nageena Khalique QC told the judge.

“Given that (the woman) lacks the capacity to consent to sexual relations, the only conclusion one can draw is that she must have been sexually assaulted.”

She said the woman had been living under a “care package” and a “safeguarding investigation” was under way.

Specialists had concluded that the woman’s mental health difficulties would make it impossible for her to give birth naturally because she would be unable to follow a midwife’s instructions or say if she was in pain.

Mr Justice Poole ruled that specialists could lawfully deliver the baby by Caesarean section without the woman’s consent.

Lawyers representing the woman and the council involved had agreed with the Caesarean section plan.

The judge said the woman required supervision 24 hours a day and described the case as “disturbing”.

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