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Should Women Getting Drunk During Pregnancy be Liable to Prosecution?

  1. Diana Grant profile image87
    Diana Grantposted 3 years ago

    In the UK, lawyers for various local councils are representing some 80 children who have been mentally or physically damaged because of their mothers' consumption of alcohol during pregnancy after being warned about the health effects on the foetus.  If they win their case, the unborn child will have unprecedented rights to be recognized as a person.

    Is it right for women to face criminal prosecution for administering a poison or other noxious substance, which is a crime under the Offences Against the Person Act, as a result of their drinking alcohol during pregnancy?
    http://s2.hubimg.com/u/8722353_f248.jpg

    1. Silverspeeder profile image61
      Silverspeederposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      My problem with this is that counsels already have almost unlimited power when it comes to the rights of children, it has been shown of late that they have used these powers with disregard for the intrest of all involved except themselves.
      Will they also be given the power to prosecute drug addicts, smokers or anyone who engages in sports that may harm the foetus?
      I ask myself where will it all lead, we hear that certain government organisations have sought approval for the sterilisation of women with mental issues, would we be supprised if they do the same with someone who has a alcohol or drug problem?

      1. Diana Grant profile image87
        Diana Grantposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        It seems to me that the State is damned if it extends its powers, and damned if it doesn't.

        1. Genna East profile image89
          Genna Eastposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Excellent point, Diana.  If the law states that the existence of a “person” existed after the 28 week mark, or before, then government will step in and prosecute the same way it prosecutes for harm committed to a walking, breathing sentient human being as a “person.” So one can’t complain about government becoming involved since the law automatically invokes that involvement. Once again, I’m saying I’m pro or con, I’m just stating that “it is what it is.”

    2. Credence2 profile image86
      Credence2posted 3 years ago in reply to this

      The entire concept goes to far. I don't like where this is leading and the implications for women reproductive rights.

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        "women's reproductive rights" have exactly nothing to do with murder or abuse of children.

        Having said that, I'm extremely uncomfortable with the notion that a faceless bureaucrat somewhere knows what is best for you and your child, and can enforce it at gunpoint.  And I certainly don't like where that is leading.

        1. John Holden profile image61
          John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          So let's get this straight. A woman must carry a child to term no matter what but if on the way she chooses to drink herself and her unborn child to death, that's fine!

          1. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            A twisted path, isn't it?  Personally, I'm quite satisfied with Roe vs Wade on abortion, but shoving debilitating chemicals into a child's body is not abortion.  It is something else entirely, but what?  Parental abuse?  Personal right?

            1. John Holden profile image61
              John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Debilitating poisons like alcohol?

              But you are against anybody trying to prevent this!

              1. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                What in the world are  you talking about?  Only an idiot or sadist would advocate being able to force a child to imbibe alcohol (to the point of harm; I recognize that some medications have ethanol in them).

                1. Diana Grant profile image87
                  Diana Grantposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  But what if the pregnant mother is in fact an idiot or sadist, because she was harmed as a foetus by her own mother?  Would she still be culpable?

                  1. wilderness profile image95
                    wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    Innocent by reason of insanity is a viable defense in the US.

                    Even if I'm not happy with the concept that an abusive childhood gives someone the right to act as they wish, it has been used successfully.  A mother that is actually insane as a result of fetal alcohol syndrome is perhaps another matter - I am not doctor enough to truly say.

                2. John Holden profile image61
                  John Holdenposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  You said 
                  "but shoving debilitating chemicals into a child's body is not abortion.  It is something else entirely, but what?  Parental abuse?  Personal right?" 
                  And yet earlier on you expressed disquiet at the thought of women being preventing from drinking alcohol to an excess.

                  1. wilderness profile image95
                    wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    I'm sorry, but I see a dichotomy here, a paradox if you will, and do not know how to solve it.

                    A woman may drink herself to oblivion if she wishes, but if she intentionally takes a child with her that becomes murder.  At some point a fetus becomes a child, and will be forced to join the Mother in imbibing.  At some point, then, the mother loses the right to drink indiscriminately.

                    Is this different than losing the right to drive when drunk?  Is it different than losing the right to a wood fire when pollution settles in?  We all lose rights when those rights impact other people - this is not different in that respect.  It IS differently emotionally, of course, and doubly so when "reproductive rights" are declared to include the right to murder.

            2. Diana Grant profile image87
              Diana Grantposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Thank you Wilderness for referring to Roe vs Wade, which I've just looked up - being English, I had not come across this case, which, for those of you who who do not know, decided that abortion is legal in the USA before and until the foetus is a viable entity, at about 28 weeks.  But we now come to the odd part - if you intend that the foetus should die through abortion, that's OK,and not a criminal offence,  but if you wilfully take a noxious substance which you know might harm the foetus, even though you don't intend to harm it, then you might be committing a criminal offence. 
              However, taking the same noxious substance with the intention of causing an abortion would presumably not be an offence, if done before 28 weeks.
              And don't forget that at one time, before medical practice developed,  if women wanted to have an abortion, they would drink a bottle of gin.

              1. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                All that's why I say it is a twisted path we walk there, regardless of which side of the fence we come down on. 

                *sigh* It's a gray world, no matter how much we would like to see black and white.  And throw in the question of what it means if the decision has been made to NOT have an abortion but chemicals are fed to the unborn at even 1 week and it is even more gray.

    3. Genna East profile image89
      Genna Eastposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Interesting question, Diana.  This is the conundrum in that one can’t have it both ways.  I’m not saying that I support or do not support “The Person Act” …I am merely positing the legal problems with this premise.

      For example:  If a fertilized egg/fetus is a “person” with the same rights as a born, sentient human being, then by definition of the law, women who miscarry should be investigated as to whether or not their actions contributed to the death of this person --   either intentionally or through negligence.  This speaks directly to the UK issue and the possible “negligence” of the woman during the entire course of her pregnancy – from conception forward – that resulted in mental and/or physical harm.

      Then, there is the question of granting women who were raped an exception and allow them to have abortions.  As horrific as this experience is to these poor women, the fertilized egg/fetus is still a “person.”  Accordingly, is the abortion not legally sanctioned murder?

    4. PrettyPanther profile image85
      PrettyPantherposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Birth defects, childhood cancer, and miscarriages have all been linked to the health of a father's sperm, which is directly affected by cigarette smoking and consumption of large amounts of alcohol.  Why are you not suggesting prosecuting men whose smoking and drinking cause miscarriages, cancer and birth defects?

      1. psycheskinner profile image80
        psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        FAS is caused 1:1 by and only by very high alcohol intake--a.k.a.alcoholism. I think pregnant woman have a duty of care at least as high as a person might have over a car borrowed from a friend.

      2. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Maybe because "linked to" generally implies correlation, not causation.

        Of maybe because the OP refers to one specific "crime", which cannot include males.

        Or maybe it just isn't "beat up on men" day today.

        1. Josak profile image61
          Josakposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Well correlation is not necessarily causation but is this case it almost certainly is, genetic damage can be shown in the sperm of men who have used certain substances regularly.

          It seems fair to me that the responsibility should go both ways, the issue is that men often don't know they are impregnating someone given that 50% of pregnancies are unplanned.

          But if people are trying to have a child it seems fair to expect men to cut those things in the same way women would during pregnancy for the period where they are trying to conceive, for most people that period is shorter than a full term pregnancy anyhow.

          1. profile image83
            Education Answerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            So people should be held accountable as long as the baby is wanted and thus not aborted?  Is the value of life only a valid argument when somebody chooses it over an abortion?

            By the way Paul Ryan used that same argument, the "correlation is not necessarily causation" argument, to help debunk the bogus, biased study you quoted in another forum here at HubPages.  Do you remember the Hungerford study?

            1. Josak profile image61
              Josakposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Yeah. You have the right to an abortion if you don't want to have a child, you don't have the right to make your child disabled, intellectually handicapped etc. before its born.

              Yeah I remember the study, the one you dismissed because on one of it's researcher's/ authors donated to the democratic party, (As though that alters the validity of the demonstrated data) and yes correlation does not necessarily equal causation which is why when I used that study I noted that it means your views do not bear out in the evidence, of course it's a dumb argument when you look at a 65 year study, sure maybe phosphorous isn't flammable it just so happens that every match is being struck by invisible lightning and thus catching fire when struck, correlation isn't causation right?

              I am very sorry that lowering taxes does not correlate with growth and that raising them actually increases it in American history. Over 65 years.

              1. profile image83
                Education Answerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                By "one of it's [sic] contributors," do you mean the guy for which the study was named?  The study was withdrawn.  It was resubmitted with its primary findings highly watered down. Credibility is a big concern with this study.

                The study did not say that lowering taxes did not result in growth; the study said that lowering taxes on the top tax rates had no correlation to economic growth.  Causation was never proved.  Either you were manipulating meaning with words, or you didn't read the study thoroughly. 

                Yep, I do believe that the  study you cited was biased.  You claimed my two studies were biased but had no proof, and then you sanctimoniously stated that it was typical that I would ignore your study.  I provided proof  that your study's author was a big campaign contributor to the Left, and you made excuses.  That is typical.

                So it's okay to kill the baby but not to injure it?  That makes no sense.  According to that same logic, one could partially drown somebody, cause brain damage, and go to jail.  The same person could successfully drown somebody and have no fault.  You, so often, claim that all life has equal value, but I guess some people are more equal than others?

                1. Josak profile image61
                  Josakposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  Yeah one of the contributors.

                  The study was ruled valid by the whole economic advisory board of the CRS it was withdrawn because of a congressional complaint from the GOP, the withdrawal of any study that gets a congressional appeal is protocol for the CRS.

                  Actually that is a lie, I showed two reasons why your studies were invalid, one because they have an obvious bias from the organisation that funded them (conservative think tanks) (rather than one of the employees being a democrat which is pretty likely on any research in a bi-partisan organisation.) (Also worth noting past research shows most economists vote democrat, go figure, so it's a pretty likely event.)

                  I also pointed out that they selected the study groups on no logical basis just choosing countries selectively to back their argument rather than the CRS study which simply looks at the USA.

                  Besides don't you remember you don't believe in research from other countries being used in the US so your study is invalid from the start tongue

                  Fetus is not a legal person until 28 weeks, killing the fetus before then does not harm a legal person, damaging the fetus but not killing harms the person it becomes at 28 weeks. It's pretty simple legal doctrine, thought that was obvious.

                  1. profile image83
                    Education Answerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    Yep, I do not listen to fantasy-land studies.

                    They don't name studies after a mere contributor.  Get real.

                    The study was resubmitted with a neutered conclusion.  That's not standard protocol. 

                    Again, the study did not say that tax reduction was unsuccessful.  It said there was no correlation between reducing the top tax rates and economic growth.  You claimed that this was true for all taxes.  There is a big difference.  You hyperbolized in order to support your view.  Do you really want to talk about lies?

                    Why is a fetus only considered a person at twenty-eight weeks?  Is it because of an erroneous, arbitrary set point?  I guess at twenty-seven weeks and six days, one can do whatever they wish to the child.  If it's one day older, it has legal rights.  Some people are more equal than others.

                    Most economists vote democrat?  Yeah, right.  You love, love, love to stereotype for benefit, don't you?  How many economists supported Obama?  I can find hundreds that supported Romney, some Nobel winners.  Here are articles.  Call them biased, but you might want to check sources first.  One is listed as opinion, so there's a starting point for you.

                    http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/pet … mneys-plan

                    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government … or-America

                    http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/30/news/ec … conomists/

          2. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            Do those men have a "different" lifestyle that the norm?
            Do they typically have a different diet, perhaps with insufficient calories?
            Do they typically reside around chemically laden areas?
            Do they typically remain warm and comfortable in cold climes?

            Do you need more possible reasons to understand that it is not a sure thing, that those chemicals are known to cause specific defects?

            I would agree it needs to go both ways, but it also seems the typical woman in such circumstances is unlikely to "finger" the father, not knowing who it is.

            1. Josak profile image61
              Josakposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Yes and maybe breathing is actually unnecessary and drowning people have all just had very conveniently timed heart attacks.

              People trying would almost always know who the father is and paternity tests are easy.

              1. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                Yes, tests are easy.  All it takes is a male willing to give blood (or other DNA). 

                Doesn't mean the father will be found, though, does it?

                But people trying what?  To get pregnant?  I doubt that an alcoholic Mom, or a crack head, would be trying very hard.  Or be particularly interested in who the father is.  That was my point - that such women aren't the best source of information.

                1. Josak profile image61
                  Josakposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  Yup you really didn't read my comment...

                  Aside from that it's a scary level of prejudice and stereotyping in your comment.

                  to repeat:

                  "But if people are trying to have a child it seems fair to expect men to cut those things in the same way women would during pregnancy for the period where they are trying to conceive"

                  So it would only apply to people who are trying to have a child, in which case the father would be known in almost all cases, when he is not the police already have the right to test for DNA with a judges order if there is reasonable grounds even without consent.

                  1. wilderness profile image95
                    wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    And with that change of subject (the thread is about alcoholic women) I have no argument, at least if it can be verified that alcohol causes mutations in sperm..  Men should refrain just as women do.  And yes, a couple trying to conceive almost certainly knows the father.

            2. Credence2 profile image86
              Credence2posted 3 years ago in reply to this

              OK, Wilderness, I prefer progressive over liberal as it a timeworn word that may not represent where many on the left are.  Addressing your earlier comment  I really wonder if there is a difference in the dictionary between 'progressive' and  'liberal' beyond the semantic....

    5. HowardBThiname profile image90
      HowardBThinameposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      The state has no right to prosecute any pregnant women who drinks unless they can PROVE that she drank SOLELY for the purpose of damaging her unborn.

      The woman could have a low IQ and not understand the ramifications. And, healthy children ARE born to drinking mothers, indicating that there IS a chance a mother could still have a healthy baby.

      Intent is at issue - as it is in nearly all crimes.

      If the woman is an alcoholic, who is to say she isn't TRYING to control her cravings?

      If we punish pregnant women who drink - we must also punish anyone else who drinks - or is under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

      And what if the woman eats tainted food? Will we put her in prison because she didn't know the cabbage soup she made last week went bad? Should she have known?

      Women who get near cat poop can acquire a deadly disease that can wreak havoc on an unborn. Should all pregnant women be required to euthanize their cats?

      I could see that last one creating an increase in abortions.

      1. Josak profile image61
        Josakposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Same as manslaughter, intent is not necessary. Recklessness or negligence is the standard of proof.

        1. HowardBThiname profile image90
          HowardBThinameposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Are you ready to start prosecuting everyone who eats butter and candy too?

          Your ways lead to tyranny.

          1. Josak profile image61
            Josakposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            Reasonable negligence and or recklessness.

            Your argument is a very obvious slippery slope fallacy.

            It's like arguing manslaughter will lead to people being prosecuted for killing someone by distracting them when sneezing.

            1. HowardBThiname profile image90
              HowardBThinameposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Am I to take it that you do not believe alcoholism is a disease?

              1. Josak profile image61
                Josakposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                I don't no.

                As I said we already punish for drink driving, drinking while operating machinery, drinking while giving medical advice etc. etc.

                There is no legal debate on this issue.

  2. gmwilliams profile image82
    gmwilliamsposted 3 years ago

    Yes, pregnant women who imbibe alcohol during pregnancy should be LIABLE to prosecution.  Pregnant women have been warned about the perils of drinking and taking other controlled substances during pregnancy and yet some PERSIST, much to the harm of the child.  YOU BET they should be LIABLE to prosecution.  Let me go futher, THEY SHOULD BE PROSECUTED to the FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW!

    1. Diana Grant profile image87
      Diana Grantposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Yes, as you say they should be "Liable" to prosecution, which is quite different from being prosecuted in every case.  There would have to be sufficient evidence of intentional harm.......but, wait a minute, taking this a little further, would this mean that no LEGAL  abortions could take place, since there would be intention to harm the foetus?  This is a real moral maze. wouldn't you say?

    2. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Does that include excessive foodstuffs, even if known bad (extreme fat, etc.)?  Prescription meds?  How about bungee jumping or other sports?  It just seems very dangerous to give politicians that kind of power.

      1. Silverspeeder profile image61
        Silverspeederposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        The problem wilderness would be that it wouldn't be the politicians or even doctors making the decisions, it would probably be a council worker with a sociology degree and a chip on their shoulder (ref Sharon Shoesmith) who will make decisions from a list card written by other council workers with a sociology degree. And of course we will never know what's going on because all prosecutions will be done in secret.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Um.  On the surface, yes.  But the politician, working behind the scenes, will always be the one in control.  Sharon depends on those politicians, after all, to pay her for those decisions. 

          Not that it makes much difference; anyone following the repeated demise and resurrection of the common egg knows that; it has ranged from poison to manna (several times) in only a few decades.

    3. GA Anderson profile image84
      GA Andersonposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Do you mean any alcohol, or just copious amounts?  Is a sip of a champagne toast enough  for prosecution

      What about women that smoke? we all know the dangers of that.

      What about women that take sedatives, Zannex(sp?), Valium, etc.? Does a doctor's prescription negate the dangers of barbiturates?

      What about women that drive? Is it possible for them to not know the pregnant belly is going to be the first thing the steering wheel slams into?

      Would you volunteer to run the committee that formulates all government enforced "activities while pregnant" regulations?

      These are not silly examples or questions, they are very obvious pitfalls on the slippery slope of government control you are advocating.

      GA

      1. psycheskinner profile image80
        psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        FAS is caused by drinking enormous amounts over many months of the pregnancy. That is why it is pretty much only found with alcoholic mothers. Hence my point that prosecution should only be an option if the mother was given reasonable access to treatment for her addiction (or an early abortion).

        Having dealt with kids with FAS, I think it is essentially a form of child abuse.

        1. GA Anderson profile image84
          GA Andersonposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Contrary to my apparently contrarian position, I am not unsympathetic to children suffering from FAS. And I certainly don't hold a high opinion of pregnant mothers-to-be that drink excessively while pregnant.

          My response was to GNWILLIAM's position that prosecution is THE ONLY proper choice for women that get drunk while pregnant.

          This is not a black and white issue that can be arbitrated in the manner she promotes.

          GA

        2. HowardBThiname profile image90
          HowardBThinameposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          From what I understand - alcoholism is classified as a disease. If the person is not in control of their actions - can we punish them? If they ARE in control of their actions - alcoholism is not a disease.

          Take your pick.

          1. Josak profile image61
            Josakposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            We punish drunk drivers do we not? Seems the question has already been answered.

  3. profile image83
    Education Answerposted 3 years ago

    Why should they be liable for getting drunk while pregnant if they can go legally abort the same child?

  4. psycheskinner profile image80
    psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago

    If they were given the realistic choice of help to avoid causing the fetus alcohol poisoning (e.g. free inpatient care), yes, I think it should be prosecutable. The damage done to kids with FAS is lifelong, cruel and expensive to society.

  5. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
    Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago

    ...maybe the one with the warm gun should be held accountable, since he knew the woman had a drinking problem… or at least SHOULD have!!!
    Instead, we blame the snake.
    Instead we blame the woman.
    Instead we blame the man.
    Instead we blame the fetus.
    Instead we blame God.
    Instead we blame the devil.
    Oh, who should we blame?
    ...and who should we hold accountable for our addictions, our frailties, our human propensities toward addictions and crazinesses on all levels?
    How do we set boundaries? Maybe we should hold the producers of alcoholic beverages accountable… or the liquor stores?
    Why not the owner of the too happy warm gun?
    Boundaries.

    1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
      Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      I'll tell you why;
      One word: Testosterone!
      We cut that hormone way too much slack, in general!
      (Estrogen as well.)
      Ladies, if you have a problem with alcohol, step away from the testosterone!
      Men, if your woman has a problem with alcohol, step away from the estrogen!
      Judges, if your client has a messed up kid because she drank alcohol while she was pregnant, don't worry… she will be suffering enough! Maybe you should force her to tell her story through a running blog about the trials and tribulations she is going through due to her negligence. Nature will be boxing this mothers ears enough, (... based on the saying, "If you don't listen to mother nature, she'll box your ears.")
      Have Mercy.

  6. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
    Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago

    Also, lets say the woman takes a couple sips of wine. if something goes wrong with the child, false accusations could fly like mad. I know a woman whose baby fell off a bed. She is being sued for neglect. The woman is already going through agony due to the serious injury her child suffered. No, CPS is advocating legal action against her. She can't even live with her ten month old until she is proven innocent. Which she is.

    1. Josak profile image61
      Josakposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Slippery slope fallacy.

      1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
        Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Witch hunt reality.

        1. Kathryn L Hill profile image88
          Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          - maybe the question should be… If a woman is abusing her child before it is even born, (through any type of substance abuse,) perhaps she should be forced/required to abort it. And at whatever stage she starts to abuse it. I still like the idea of stepping away from the eggs of an alcoholic woman in the first place…

 
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