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Holding the baby

Local authorities must balance the need for ex parte emergency protection orders for new born babies with parents’ human rights, says P Gallagher

6 December 2002

Removing a baby at birth is a traumatic event. According to the DOH Children Act Report 2001 (July 2002) there were 2127 emergency protection orders (EPOs) in 2001. In relation to new born babies, most are likely to be ex parte. The decision of the European Court of Human Rights in P C and S v United Kingdom [2002] 2 FLR 631 suggests some local authority child care practices are unacceptable under the Human Rights Act 1998. Facts The applicant mother (P) and father (C) alleged that removing their child (S, born in May 1998) at birth and placing her in care and freeing her for adoption breached Art 8 and that the procedures followed were in breach of Art 6. P had been married before in America and had two children. The second was taken into protective custody aged nine by the Californian authorities. It was suspected he was the victim of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. In October 1995 P was convicted of a misdemeanour and sentenced to probation and three months in cu...

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