Simon Jenkins on the foetal alcohol syndrome court case:
If poisoning your foetus with alcohol is a crime, why is it not a crime to abort it? If alcoholism in pregnancy is “attempted manslaughter”, as a QC told the court of appeal this week, surely abortion is murder.
Well, yes. You aren’t the first to point this out, either.
The motive for this week’s court case in London had nothing to do with the health of mother or child. It was blatantly financial. A local council is acting on behalf of a seven-year-old girl – “CP” – who suffers from acute “foetal alcohol syndrome”. The claimed cause was her mother’s drinking during pregnancy. The suit is intended to shift the cost of caring for her from the council to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on the grounds that the girl is victim of “violence against the person”.
It’s hardly a surprise that councils will seek to spend less, even if that does mean merely drawing from one pot rather than another.
In the end, of course, we pay. The mother isn’t going to, after all.
The advance of criminal law into these recesses of private morality is ominous.
You’ve only just realised this..?
If the court of appeal throws this case out, we might hope to focus similar tolerance on drug abuse, shop-lifting, antisocial behaviours and petty crimes for which imprisonment is such a primitive answer.
Including the current wave of Twitter police, perhaps?
Now we have the proposed crime of “emotional violence” – including “reducing self-esteem” by calling someone fat – showing there is no limit to the law’s ambition. To be against jailing people for such offences is not to condone what they do, merely to apply some sense of proportion.
And I’d actually cheer you on, but you do realise that you are out of step with all your fellow columnists, don’t you?