Pregnancy and State Intervention (Legal Cases (Alcohol consumption (A…
Pregnancy and State Intervention
Aborted her baby days before it was due to be born (39 weeks) and was jailed for eight years
Charged and found guilty of administering a poison with the intent to produce a miscarriage. Used drugs brought on the internet from India which when taken would cause a miscarriage. Later claimed the baby was
Lovers child from seven year affaire and didn't tell anyone she was pregnant. Had two children at home who she was described as being a 'loving mother'
If she killed the baby after it was born she would be facing a murder charge and life in prison.
Very difficult to investigate - took two years to get a case together.
Teenage rapper is charged with child destruction for 'hitting pregnant girlfriend in the stomach before she lost the baby'
A woman has been spared jail after being convicted of aborting a seven and a half month old unborn baby. Marsha Mohammed, 22, is the first expected mother in Britain to have been convicted of child destruction
Kevin Wilson was found guilty of stamping on his pregnant ex girlfriend's stomach and killing their unborn child. He denied the charge of child destruction but the jury found him to be guilty.
A council recently applied to a court for compensation for a child born with health difficulties as a consequence of her mother's alcohol use during pregnancy
6 year old girl who suffered brain damage due to alcohol exposure whilst in the womb - is she a victim of a crime? Mother ignored warning signs and was aware of the harm to the foetus
Mother drank 47-50 units a day (not meant to have more than14 a week). She was very young, 17, and this was her second pregnancy.
If successful women may be convicted of a criminal act if they damage their unborn child by drinking during pregnancy. Initial hearing ruled that the mother's alcohol consumption was 'directly attributable to a crime of violence' constituting the crime of poisoning under section 23 of the offences against the person act 1861. Overturned but later given permission to be heard in court of appeal
In 2014 judges at the court of appeal ruled that the girl was not entitled to criminal injuries compensation as a victim of crime
Lord Justice Treacy said that for a crime to be committed an 'essential ingredient' was 'the grievous bodily harm on a person' and the grievous bodily harm on a foetus 'will not suffice' (BBC News 2014)
Ward of court
In law a ward is someone placed under protection of a legal guardian. A court may take responsibility for the legal protection of a child.
Concerns were raised by a council over the mental state of a pregnant woman, who they feared "would not take care of or provide appropriate medical attention for her child at and after birth. The court could not exercise the rights, powers and duties of a parent over the foetus without controlling the mothers actions.
Pregnant womens' rights
A pregnant women can refuse medical treatment if doing so would harm the baby
They can't be prosecuted for causing harm to her unborn child for example through alcohol or substance abuse
Time limit on abortion - the human embryo and fertilisation act 1990 amended the abortion act 1967 and reduced the time limit for termination to 24 weeks
Infant life (preservation) act 1929 (child destruction). An offence if - capable of being born alive (the baby could survive outside of the womb); intent to kill the unborn child (hard to prove)
Mental Capacity act 2005
Are abortion laws outdated?
There are arguments to fully decriminalise abortion in the Uk. Restrictions were introduced to prevent 'back street abortions'
Medically controlled abortions for women in England (and Scotland and Wales): certified by two doctors; performed by a doctor in a licensed aborting clinic; consists of two visits
In 2011 the DFH was challenged by the British pregnancy advisory service. They called for those seeking an abortion to be given both pills at the same time. Women could take the first one in the clinic under supervision of a doctor, travel home to take the second pill there
Abortion pill online sales increasing in Britain (illegal) - from five in 2013 to 375 in 2016
Alcohol during pregnancy
Current guidelines state that expected mothers should avoid alcohol but if they do choose to drink they should limit their consumptions to one-two units a week
Lawyers in the case are representing 80 children across the UK who suffered from foetal consumption disorder after their mother drank alcohol whist they were pregnant. The disorder causes a range of physical and mental health including growth issues, facial abnormalities and learning disabilities. 1% of babies born in England suffer behavioural or developmental difficulties because of their mothers drinking
Dr Neele Aton, a pedietrition at Brighton University said "If it's a choice between a drink, smoke or a spliff then don't drink would be my recommendation"
Duncan Selbie (head of public health in England) has argued for hospitals to carry out carbon monoxide tests to check wether pregnant women are smokers
'Baby Clear' programme every woman was offered carbon monoxide tests and those with high carbon monoxide readings was referred within 24 hours, for help from a trained smoking cessation advisor
Analysis of baby weight showed that the baby was heavier if the mother stopped smoking during pregnancy
Where fathers have tried to prevent abortions by legal action they have failed
Patan applied for an injunction to prevent his wife from having a lawful abortion
The court held that the unborn child has no legal rights of its own, and its farther only had rights as a husband
The case went to European Court of human rights, Patan vs United Kingdom 1980
Patan asserted that the judgement had violated his unborn child's rights under article 2 right to life and article 5 right to liberty and security of the convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms (1950)
Global Gag Rule
Signed executive order defunding any international development groups which even give women or girls overseas (outside of the US) advice on abortions. regardless of its activities and services
Endangering the lives of millions of women and girls
Vowed to defund planned parenthood- as long as they provide abortions
This is an organisation which provides more than 2.5 million people with healthcare every year, including HIV tests, contraceptive services and breast exams. Just 3% of its services are related to abortion
Prohibits second trimester abortions (surgical ones) - no exceptions
The presumed farther will be able to prevent a pregnant women from having any type of abortion (eve in cases of rape and incest)
Act 45 the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion
Social Services Interventions
The children Act (1989) provides the legislative framework through which the state can intervene to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child - it does not refer to an unborn child
Statuary national guidelines (working together to safeguard children) makes reference to taking steps to protect an unborn child
Social workers have to undertake a pre-birth assessment where there are concerns that unborn is at risk of significant harm
This is an assessment undertaken during the pre-birth period by social workers from children's social care (in collaboration with other relevant professionals such as midwives)
The purpose is to understand the unborn child's circumstances and needs in order to establish whether further action is required to protect the child's welfare. It is only taken when there are concerns that an unborn child is likely to suffer significant harm
A pregnant woman could ultimately refuse to engage with social workers assessments and interviews. A social worker would still have to do an assessment regardless.
Assessments would look at child's development needs, housing and environment, parenting and capacity.
Likely outcomes: no further action; support provided to parents; child taken into care at birth or shortly after
Wallbridge 2012- A pre-birth risk assessment occurs when:
Previous children have been removed because they have suffered harm and/or there has been a previous suspicious death of a child
Existing children are currently subject to a CP plan, or there have been previous CP concerns
A person posing risk to children have joined the family/parent or other adult in the household is presenting a risk to the children
Concerns about the mothers ability to keep the baby safe or that they are actively hostile and have rejected the baby during pregnancy
Concerns regarding parenting capacity, particularly where the parents have either severe mental health problems or learning difficulties
Alcohol, substance misuse is thought to be effecting the health of the expecting baby, or the mother is experiencing domestic abuse
The expectant mother or farther has experienced abusive parenting and/or has spent time in care - concerns about the impact of early life trauma on parenting
Adolescent pregnancy requiring a dual assessment of their needs as well as their ability to meed their baby's needs
Denial/concealment of pregnancy, avoidance of antenatal care, non co-operation with treatment with potential detrimental effects on the unborn child
Concerns that the expected mother or farther is at risk from honour based violence or the infant may be subjected to FGM
What information is collected? babies developmental needs; parenting capacity; family environment risk factors
What can they do pre-birth?
Prevention action - referral to substance misuse service to help mother overcome her difficulties and reduce the risk of harm to her unborn child
Plan for Interventions post birth
"Bond between mother and unborn childish often perceived as 'sacrosanct'" Hodson 2011
Emotionally damaging effect of uncertainty as to whether a baby will be removed at birth hanging over the pregnancy
Reluctance to make preparations for the baby's birth because: "I don't feel any love for my baby, I was afraid to become too close...if i didn't have any love, maybe it would not feel so bad if I lost my baby...I could not think about the future until I was told it was okay" (Corner 1997)
Both mother and farther may become depressed, angry or frustrated...Previous harmful behaviour may resurface such as alcohol or substance abuse, or intimate partner violence (Corner 1997)
Parents may also find it difficult to sustain their relationship under the added pressure and may separate or remain in a relationship that is detrimental to all concerned