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British Fetus Damned
October 18, 2007 permalink
An English woman, Fran Lyon, will lose her baby within 30 minutes of birth, because of problems she had as a teenager. In the article below you can see a picture of what, in the eyes of child protectors, looks like a blood-thirsty mother with her daughter already bulging in her belly. The statement "a domestic incident in July led to the involvement of social services" means that the mother may already have been the target of a shotgun divorce.
I won't hurt my baby' says woman who fears social workers will seize her newborn
The woman who won't be allowed to keep her baby - just in case she harms it
By STEVE DOUGHTY and PAUL SIMS - Last updated at 20:08pm on 18th October 2007
A mother-to-be faces losing her baby within minutes of its birth because social workers fear she will harm the child.
Fran Lyon, 22, has been told she cannot be trusted with a newborn because she is likely to suffer from Munchausen's syndrome by proxy.
The condition is said to lead mothers to seek attention by harming their child or claiming it is ill.
Miss Lyon insisted yesterday that the mental health problems she had as a teenager were behind her. She also appealed for a place in a mother and baby unit so that she could look after her child under supervision.
"I would be happy to stay for as long as it takes," she said. "At the end of the day I have nothing to hide so why would I have a problem going? I know there is nothing wrong.
"I'm not depressed, although I have every right to be. I'm not struggling to cope."
Miss Lyon's child - a girl to be called Molly - is due in January.
"I know I wouldn't hurt her," she said. "I would quite happily have 24-hour supervision with a perfect stranger sat with me watching my every move.
"All I want is a chance to be Molly's mum."
Social workers told Miss Lyon last week that her child will be taken from her within 30 minutes of birth.
Munchausen's has been at the heart of a series of miscarriages of justice.
Sir Roy Meadow, a discredited paediatrician who helped develop theories about the condition, was responsible for evidence that led to the wrongful convictions of Angela Cannings and Sally Clark for murdering their children. Miss Clark died earlier this year, after, friends said, turning to alcohol following her release from prison.
Miss Lyon, from Hexham in Northumberland, started self-harming at the age of 15 and has been treated at psychiatric hospitals for borderline personality disorder.
She said a domestic incident in July led to the involvement of social services who became concerned by her pregnancy.
"I told them that I had mental health problems when I was a lot younger and that I had since moved on and now had a normal life," said Miss Lyon.
"I assumed that would be the end of it but the next thing I know they were going to a child protection conference.
"I am living with this constant notion that someone might walk into the delivery suite and take my baby away."
Her case has been taken up by Lib-Democrat MP John Hemming who has been campaigning against adoption of babies.
"The whole family court system, because of the secrecy which surrounds it, is vulnerable to bad practice," he said.
"Social workers are under pressure not to lose cases."
Family courts set up adoption orders and make decisions about children thought to be at risk. The evidence and the reasoning behind rulings are rarely made public.
A spokesman for Northumberland County Council said: "Legally we are unable to comment on the detail of individual cases.
"We can say that such cases can be very complex and involve a lot of information and various concerns relating to the safety of a child."
Dr Stella Newrith, a psychiatrist who has treated Miss Lyon, said she had made a significant recovery.
In a letter to Northumberland Council, she stated: "There has never been any clinical evidence to suggest Fran would put herself or others at risk and there is certainly no evidence to suggest she would put a child at risk of emotional, physical or sexual harm."
• Munchausen's syndrome by proxy was identified in the 1970s by paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow. It can take the form of fabricated illness where a parent claims a child is ill by making up symptoms.
In a more vicious form, illness is actually induced, with the parent inflicting harm on the child.
Professor Meadow's research at the University of Leeds cited a case of a woman who poisoned her child with salt and that of another mother who tampered with blood samples to make her child seem ill.
The theory became increasingly influential and in 1993 the professor's evidence helped convict nurse Beverley Allitt of the murders of four children.
But the Angela Cannings and Sally Clark miscarriages of justice wrecked Professor Meadow's reputation because he had been an expert witness. Some now question whether Munchausen's exists.
Source: Daily Mail