How a woman looks after herself during pregnancy is always a subject of debate to ensure the protection of the baby/foetus and guidance to mums-to-be changes regularly. When does ignoring this guidance turn into a criminal act?
A case that is due before the Court of Appeal in November considers whether a foetus can be a victim of violent crime. The case involves a child born with foetal alcohol syndrome who was taken into care by the Local Authority. It was the Local Authority who made an application to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (CICA). The Local Authority initially decided that because the mother ignored warnings and recklessly continued drinking, it was equivalent to an act of poisoning. The CICA agreed and awarded compensation on the basis the foetus had been a victim of ‘a crime of violence’.
However the CICA appealed and the decision was overturned by Judge Levenson on the basis that the foetus was “not a person in legal terms” at the time and therefore could not be a victim of a crime.
If the decision of the Court of Appeal in November is in favour of the child, it will have far reaching consequences for many more children who have suffered injury in the womb trying to bring a claim for compensation.