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Mother drinking during pregnancy equivalent to manslaughter

Posted in: Birth Injury Criminal Injury and Assault 

A compensation claim was recently opened on behalf of a baby that was subjected to heavy drinking while in the womb.  The court appeal described the damage inflicted upon the unborn baby as equivalent to ‘an attempt at manslaughter’. The lawyers behind the young girl’s claim, who is now aged seven, said that she was entitled to payments from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

The young girl’s case raised numerous complex questions. One debate attempted to determine whether or not the mother’s drinking habits were in fact a criminal act, or whether the child was legally an individual when she suffered the damage.  An additional eighty other claims on behalf of children affected by foetal alcohol spectrum disorder are awaiting the outcome of this question.

Sparked a great debate about the rights of the foetus

It was heard in court that the young girl’s mother had been warned by social workers and antenatal medical staff about the effects her drinking would have on the health of her baby. She ignored these warnings.  Because of this, the CICA maintains that the mother’s action was equivalent to the crime of poisoning under section 23 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

The mother is no longer in contact with the child, who suffers with severe developmental problems.  The case has sparked a great debate about the rights of the foetus and calls for women who consume large quantities of alcohol during pregnancy to be prosecuted.

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