By NICKY CHAMP
I was in London watching the news when it happened. A giant lump that refused to be swallowed hardened in my throat. A newsreader said the words ‘Drinking alcohol while pregnant could soon be illegal,’ and my stomach dropped. That all-too-familiar mother guilt settled in. Oh God, I thought, just last week I drank two glasses of champagne. I’m 19 weeks pregnant.
The reason why we’re talking about the possible legalities of drinking while pregnant is because a mother in the UK is facing a compensation claim for “excessive drinking” while pregnant. Her now seven-year-old daughter known only as ‘CP’ was born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and now suffers from “growth-retardation” as a direct result of her mother’s drinking.
She is no longer in her mother’s care and it’s her adopted parents who are seeking compensation.
The mother in question didn’t just drink a few glasses of wine a week; the court documents described her alcohol intake as “half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of strong lager a day”.
And worst of all was that she “was aware of the dangers to her baby of her excessive consumption during pregnancy”.
The case has drawn interest from the public because any precedent set could pave the way for pregnant women’s behaviour to be criminalised.
So that sneaky piece of soft cheese you scoffed or glass of wine you sipped? It could soon be illegal.
According to The UK Independent, Ben Collins, who appeared for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) asked the court to reject the case, because of the conflicting information about what is and isn’t considered dangerous when pregnant.
Since no pregnant woman wants to consent to being part of an alcohol study (nor would it be wise to conduct one) medical authorities both here and overseas do not know exactly how much alcohol is safe during pregnancy. Which is why they now advise it’s best to abstain.
Mr Collins asked whether “a pregnant mother who eats unpasteurised cheese or a soft boiled egg knowing there is a risk that it could give rise to a risk of hard to the foetus” might also find herself accused of a crime.”