Drinking alcohol during pregnancy could be ruled a crime

However, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority challenged the judgment,
and it was overturned
in December by the upper tribunal of the Administrative Appeals Chamber.

Judge Howard Levenson found that there had been “administration of a poison or
other destructive or noxious thing, so as thereby to inflict grievous bodily

However, he concluded that the girl was “not a person” in legal terms at the
time because she was still a foetus.

The judge added: “I conclude that the section 23 offence cannot be committed
by a pregnant woman drinking alcohol during her pregnancy and thereby
causing damage to her unborn child and that, in the present case, no
evidence or argument has been offered in respect of the commission of any
other offence.”

Now the council in north-west England which brought the original application
for compensation on behalf of the girl, who is now in foster care, is
preparing to take the case to the Court of Appeal, The
Sunday Times reported.

Neil Sugarman, a managing partner at GLP Solicitors in Greater Manchester, who
is handling the case, told the paper: “Sadly, we act for many, many children
who have been damaged by excessive alcohol intake during pregnancy. We were
approached by a local authority with responsibility for a child very badly
damaged as a consequence of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

“They considered making an application under the criminal injuries
compensation scheme because they thought there was an argument that the
child had been damaged by being victim of a crime. The crime being the birth
mother carrying on drinking knowing that it could damage the child.”

He added: “In all the cases we have, there is good evidence that warnings have
been given either by social workers or treating consultants and nurses to
say, ‘you cannot go on doing this, you are going to damage your child’.”