Friday, December 5, 2014

Heavy drinking while pregnant is not a crime

Heavy drinking while pregnant is NOT a crime Unborn children have no rights, appeal judges decide A CHILD left disabled after her mother drank her way through pregnancy has been refused compensation – because the girl was ‘not a person’ at the time. The council now caring for the seven-year-old argued she had been a victim of violence after the alcoholic mother downed half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of lager a day. But Lord Justice Treacey said: ‘Parliament could have legislated to criminalise the excessive drinking of a pregnant woman – but it has not done so.’ The Court of Appeal decision to deny the girl a payout from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board comes as a blow to other children who have Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. About 3,000 babies are born with the condition in Britain each year and lawyers were ready to bring 80 claims had the council won. The girl in the test case is being fostered and suffers from development, memory and behaviour problems. Neil Sugarman, who represented the council in the north-west of England, said: ‘Everyone involved with the case is disappointed with the outcome and will need time to digest the judgment and consider their options. ‘I am pleased that this case has raised awareness of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.’ The judges’ decision was hailed by women’s rights campaigners who said that, had the girl won, mothers could have landed in court for doing anything harmful to a foetus, such as eating soft-boiled eggs. Ann Furedi, of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said last night: ‘This is an extremely important ruling for mothers everywhere. ‘Women must be able to make their own decisions about their pregnancies.’

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