Judges ruled that a child born with foetal alcohol syndrome is not legally entitled to compensation after her mother drank excessively while pregnant. The seven-year-old girl was born with severe brain damage and is now in care.

Lawyers argued that the mother poisoned her foetus, but Lord Justice Treacy stated that ‘grievous bodily harm on a foetus’ does not constitute a criminal offence. The case has raised concerns because it centres on whether or not a foetus is considered a person, independent of its mother.

Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, said: ‘According to the judges, the postnatal effects of foetal alcohol syndrome, which can include heart problems, learning difficulties, musculoskeletal abnormalities and epilepsy, do not count as additional damage caused after birth.

‘This kind of argument seeks to find a difference where there is no distinction. It has no place in a legal judgement.’

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