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"Drinking in pregnancy could be made illegal"

(70 Posts)
trevortrevorslattery Wed 05-Nov-14 11:50:50


Link here

It's a story about a specific case where a child has suffered as a result of her mother's alcohol intake whilst pregnant, but

Clare Murphy from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said the case risks setting a dangerous precedent.

“If a woman finds herself in this situation we really need them to confide in health professionals, not criminalising pregnant women when what they need is help and resources," she said.

I think this is a feminist issue because it would take away a woman's autonomy over her own body. I am not advocating that women should get pissed all the time whilst pregnant, for the avoidance of doubt.

Hopefully it's not likely that this would ever become law though.

ReallyTired Wed 05-Nov-14 11:56:19

What about women who don't know that they are pregnant? I feel it is setting a dangerous precedent. Should women who smoke in pregnancy be criminalised as well? It could be argued that all women of child bearing age should be teatotal and not smoke.

I 100% agree with Clare Murphy.

TheLyingOldBitchAndHerWardrobe Wed 05-Nov-14 11:58:09

There is so much wrong with this, not least that FAS is a bit of a shady diagnosis as I understand it and the symptoms of it could be caused by any number of other genetic abnormalities or birth injuries etc.

As for criminalising drinking during pregnancy. Where do you draw the line? Eating pate, sitting next to smokers, crossing the road?

Bellossom Wed 05-Nov-14 12:01:21

It's horrible. Women can't ever be treated as vessels. Whatever the intention

Pootles2010 Wed 05-Nov-14 12:02:28

Amazing how no one ever mentions the impact of men drinking before the point of conception.

JulesJules Wed 05-Nov-14 12:05:10

Ridiculous woman policing.

Another example of taking women's rights over their own bodies away.

Would be impossible to enforce anyway

ChunkyPickle Wed 05-Nov-14 12:22:10

Also totally ridiculous given the amount of research showing no harm with light to moderate drinking - for example, the year 2000 cohort thingy they did - covering 100s of thousands of children and babies, which discovered no issues (yes, problems as ever, including that it was largely self-reporting, but you'd think people would underplay not overplay what was imbibed), also one specifically looking at some genetic markers in an attempt to discover who could be more at risk from even light drinking, which seemed to suggest that light drinkers produced children with higher IQs than tee-totallers (all the usual research provisos)

Smoking == proven to cause damage in plenty of studies, yet no-one is talking about banning it.
Drinking proven in large quantities (as with anything), nothing showing harm at low quantities (and surely they'd have found it by now if there was one given the effort put in)

We should be free to make our own educated decisions - yes, I had a beer when I felt like it during pregnancy so I do have some bias.

trevortrevorslattery Wed 05-Nov-14 12:34:55

Yes bellossom I totally agree

FuckOffGerbil Wed 05-Nov-14 12:42:45

What about women who don't know that they are pregnant?

Oh that's pre-pregant. That's a thing now.

Fuck this. Fuck all of it. Men can cause problems to an unborn child by having illness/old age/ doing drugs. That's all fine though

SevenZarkSeven Wed 05-Nov-14 12:57:40

I read this on the BBC as well and was incenced at the reporting.

FAS is a well recognised, diagnosable disorder.
FASD is something that says, oh well lots of things end up being wrong with children, or children sometimes seem to be not quite as they should, so we're going to posit that all that is down to the mother drinking, even though we have no evidence, and then say "well better safe than sorry women who are pregnant shouldn't ever have a drink ever" - this has come of of the states where some groups are obsessed with controlling women. And of course this is an excellent way to control women. There is an awful lot of really awful stuff going on around controlling women when they are pregnant / when they are of childbearing age by some groups in some areas over there, and their approach and rhetoric seems to be gaining ground over here.

So the reporting pissed me off hugely.

Then off course this case, which is ridiculous. I can see that the LA / family want to be able to access funds to care for this child and that is perfectly understandable. However this particular fund they are trying to access is for victims of crime, and clearly if they are allowed to access it then that by basic logic means that the mother committed a criminal offence with very serious consequences - as if she had attacked the child once it was born and beaten it until it was brain damaged - and should be prosecuted as such. The people bringing the case say "we don't aim to crimilaise women" but if they succeed the whole point is that is what they will have done and obviously prosecutions will need to happen as while the law can be an ass apparently it's not so entirely illogical as to be able to say on the one hand you can have compensation as a criminal act was committed against you and on the other we're not interested in pursuing the person who committed the criminal act as it wasn't a criminal act.

The whole thing is nonsensical but terrifying for women and I just feel a bit angry that the family can't be given support with looking after this child without rendering whole swathes of women criminals and presumably whatever comes with that.

And of course - the main point at the end! - abortion would have to be made illegal. Again because if damage inflicted in the womb is a criminal matter then obviously killing something in the womb is murder. And that will have been recognised in law.

I can only hope that the court sees sense with this the consequences are so wide reaching.

OddFodd Wed 05-Nov-14 13:04:00

Thank you for that post Seven. I have been really struggling to rationalise the level of anxiety this has caused me but you've articulated why it is so very dangerous beautifully.

Some random woman told me off for drinking a beer in a club when I was pregnant. I told her to fuck off

Damnautocorrect Wed 05-Nov-14 13:10:49

It doesn't sit well with me when you can have an abortion upto 24 weeks, does that then become murder?!
What about reckless drivers that cause an accident which makes you lose your baby, that's not manslaughter.

JohnFarleysRuskin Wed 05-Nov-14 13:11:55

I thought, as PP said, it was very difficult to get a diagnosis of FAS anyway.

My friends who have adopted, have been told their child might have it, but no Doctor seems to be able to say confidently it is.

PuffinsAreFicticious Wed 05-Nov-14 13:20:42

I believe that illegally performed abortions up to 24 weeks might still be covered by murder/destruction of a foetus laws. Not 100% sure though. Even after 24 weeks, it's not murder, but destruction of a foetus iirc.

SevenZarkSeven Wed 05-Nov-14 13:34:52

But what the mother did was legal.
It's got nothing to do with existing laws around illegal abortions.

This case is that the child was criminally seriously injured (subjected to a serious assault? not sure of terminology) while in the womb as a result of the mothers legal drinking.

So legal abortion would (logically) need to be reclassified as murder.

That's how it follows through to me.

scallopsrgreat Wed 05-Nov-14 13:39:44

I think it is child destruction if done by someone else e.g. a man killing a woman who is heavily pregnant with an otherwise viable foetus.

It is unlawful abortion or child destruction if it is the woman destroying the foetus in her own body.

At least it is according to the High King of Wikipedia

"In South Wales, in February 2012, Carl Whant was convicted of child destruction after he fatally stabbed Nikitta Grender, who was 8½ months pregnant, in the abdomen in February 2011. Whant was also convicted of raping Grender before murdering her, and of arson for setting her home alight afterward. He was sentenced to imprisonment for life with a minimum term of 35 years. The crown advocate of the Crown Prosecution Service in Wales said, "Child destruction is a very rarely used charge; we are not aware of another case like this one in Wales".

In 2012, a woman who self-administered an abortion drug when 39 weeks pregnant was convicted of unlawful abortion under the 1861 Act. The sentencing judge remarked that she might equally have been charged with child destruction.

scallopsrgreat Wed 05-Nov-14 13:41:42

But yes, what the woman did was legal. If you make it illegal then that could start a whole chain of events eradicating even more rights for women.

scallopsrgreat Wed 05-Nov-14 13:43:22

And when I said 'it' in the first line of my first post I meant the theoretical killing of a foetus, not what this woman had done.

honeysucklejasmine Wed 05-Nov-14 13:46:18

I agree that it might start to infringe on abortion rights.

If the child needs to be protected from alcohol from conception, are we then saying that it is a living person from conception, and therefore abortion is "murder"?

Or are we saying that it's not "murder" until it is past the viability point, in which case you can drink and smoke etc in the first 24 weeks as much as you want because it's not a person yet and has no rights?

... or are we saying it's not born till it's born so butt out?

LittleBearPad Wed 05-Nov-14 13:48:05

It's ridiculous and another stick to beat women with. Exactly what will the sentence be for drinking a glass of wine in pregnancy every few weeks? Because if it's a criminal act then there has to be a punishment. Are they going to march a bevy of pregnant women to Holloway for having the odd G&T/beer.

ReallyTired Wed 05-Nov-14 13:48:47

We all make mistakes in life and sadly some of them have far reaching consequenes.

If someone drives at 35 miles an hour in a 30mph zone and kills a child then quite rightly they will lose their license. If a similar error of judgment caused a pregnant woman to crash her car should she be convicted of murder if she suffered a miscarriage?

I don't see how you can equate a pregnant woman drinking acholol to a wifeful murderer stabbing and raping a pregnant woman.

Would making drinking alcohol during pregnancy bring down the rates of FAS. Most women who drink heavily during pregnancy would not be deterred by such a law. I would feel really uncomfortable with jailing a pregnant woman without trial to stop her drinking.

TheWanderingUterus Wed 05-Nov-14 13:59:28

I agree that it's a step backwards and unhelpful, as well as undermining female autonomy,

Also if the mother is frightened of arrest etc if she admits to drinking or drug taking then she isn't go to tell health professionals that she has, no matter how much she has taken, Which means neither she nor the baby will be getting any help or support with any potentially related problems.

Potentially it could be used against women in custody battles or etc, husband claiming woman drank during pregnancy, MIL threatening to tell authorities about sneaky half pint.

It's a slippery slope to wondering about the causes of miscarriage IMO.

ReallyTired Wed 05-Nov-14 14:13:01

I feel sorry for this woman. She needs support rather than punishment

I think some drinking is ignorance

HaroldsBishop Wed 05-Nov-14 14:48:12

If you're the kind of person who is going to drink lots of alcohol during pregnancy, is a change in the law really going to stop you? I doubt it.

Meanwhile, people who CAN drink responsibly during pregnancy have their freedoms curtailed.

Not for me, Clive.

MrsTerrorPratchett Wed 05-Nov-14 15:20:04

I recently went to a conference with Herway Home and SheWay. They were talking about research that seems to point to the behaviours around misuse of alcohol and drugs in pregnancy being more of an issue than the alcohol and drugs themselves. Malnutrition, bad care or no care, homelessness, abuse, sex work, stress etc. So, alienating women who are using creates MORE harm rather than less. Working with women to reduce use while offering non-judgemental care and services seems to work.

Judging and criminalising women is so much more fun for people though angry

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