An Italian woman, Alessandra Pacchieri, was heavily pregnant when she travelled to the UK for a flight attendant training course. She had a mental health episode and the Essex authorities thought fit to sedate her and remove her baby girl. She got to see her daughter twice before the child was given up for permanent adoption. The baby girl is now 15 months old, and Pacchieri is still fighting for custody of her child.
That would be until you’ve heard the rest of the story. Pacchieri has a history of bipolar disorder. (No, no, keep reading.) She already has had two children aged 11 and 14, who, too, were removed from her care because she refused to take her medication. Funny thing is, the company that green lit her flight attendant application to them, Ryanair, looked past her history of mental illness, despite a criterion for the applicants to be in “good mental health”.
Everything goes downhill from here.
With the recent sensationalism of her case, support has been drawn from campaigners, Italian politicians, mental health experts and even a British MP. Not to mention, Pacchieri herself has sold her story to the Daily Mail for a good amount of money and will not do interviews unless she gets paid. Whether she uses the money for the fight for the return of her child is another matter. Yikes. Her case was made known worldwide. Her story spread through cyberspace like wildfire. Tons of people are enraged, but why?
I’m not saying that what the Essex authorities did was right. Heck, what they did was awful. I’m not saying that she deserves to have her child forcibly removed because of her mental illness. I’m not saying that people have no right to be furious about this matter. I’m just saying that, given her history, having the child removed from her care is understandable and inevitable.
The way the Essex authorities handled the matter is objectionable. The UK law cites mental illness as a “condition that can lead to loss of custody or parental rights”. However, an enforced C-section where said party will be involuntarily sedated and have her child removed from her? How dare they do such a thing? Get social services to remove her child, sure, but after the birth and with the sufficient documents to justify or explain their actions.
The way the news was circulated and sensationalised drew unnecessary attention to what would, or rather, should have been a hush-hush case. Reporters have used phrases like “social services snatched child” and “UK court steals baby”. Nothing is being done to help either party in the situation. Every little news story, press release and interview just ignited the fire even more.
The problem with the case now isn’t how outrageous it is. The problem lies in how this story was thrown into the spotlight and given the unnecessary attention. Yes, what happened to Pacchieri is appalling. I just think that this situation could have been handled better. The riled-up group of people could have handled it much better. Pacchieri could have handled it much better. Selling your story and doing paid interviews may garner the pity of the press and the public, but it isn’t the go-to answer for this case. Throwing yourself a pity party in light of your situation shouldn’t be the answer.
Given, having her uterus cut open for her child to be taken away is brutal, but her child being taken from her in the end is inevitable. People have to understand that the child being taken away from her on the count of her possibly harming her child will happen anyway. Congratulations, everyone. You just made an embarrassingly mighty mountain out of a molehill.