This week, there will be a landmark test case to decide whether or not a mother has to pay compensation to her disabled daughter who was born with foetal alcohol syndrome six years ago.
The case, which is being taken to the Court of Appeal by a North-West England council, will explore whether the physical disabilities the child has, are down to the fault of the mother who should, therefore, pay compensation. The wider implication is that more mothers who choose to drink while pregnant could face legal action and they could be guilty of a criminal offence.
The child at the centre of the case now lives with foster parents. It has also been revealed that the birth mother has not committed an offence before but it was heard at an earlier tribunal that she had administered poison with the intention of inflicting bodily harm.
Opposition to the appeal say that a new ruling in favour of the council would have wide implications and would not allow women any autonomy while they are pregnant in making their own decisions.
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is a condition which can cause a multitude of different problems including impaired physical and mental development. Damage occurs when alcohol goes into the placenta to the foetus through the bloodstream. Children with FAS have a combination of different physical problems including facial deformities like small and narrow eyes with a small head; epilepsy; hearing difficulties; kidney and liver problems and cerebral palsy.
Bpas (the British pregnancy Advisory Service) Chief Executive, Ann Furedi, said that “Viewing these cases as potential criminal offences will do nothing for the health of women and their babies”. She said that the health of pregnant women is best monitored by treating addictions and substance problems during pregnancy and not creating a criminal issue.
If you believe you have a compensation claim for any kind of injury suffered by you or a member of your family then please get in touch with our no win no fee solicitors on our national accident helpline. Alternatively, you may complete one of our online claim forms.
Published on 11th February 2015.