Senior Judges are to make a ruling later this month in a legal test case involving a child who is now seven and who was affected by foetal alcohol syndrome. The local authority who care for the child is seeking a payout from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) on the basis that the child’s condition resulted directly from the child’s mother consuming alcohol excessively during pregnancy.
The local authority won the case at first instance but the decision was overturned at a subsequent hearing on the basis that an unborn child is not a person in law and therefore no criminal offence could have been committed.
The case is very controversial as many are concerned that it will lead to women who need help being criminalised. It also calls to question a woman’s autonomy over her body during pregnancy and her right to have the freedom to make her own choices. On the other hand, should the rights of the mother take priority over those of her unborn child?
Payment by the CICA would provide financial support for a child suffering from the syndrome and would help them have a better quality of life, but if a ruling was made in the child’ favour, where does that leave the issue of smoking and consumption of certain foods during pregnancy.
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