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Prosecute Pregnant Women Who Drink?

13/11/2014 11:00 GMT | Updated 11/01/2015 10:59 GMT
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There seems to be a rise in discussion over whether women should be prosecuted for drinking alcohol whilst they're pregnant. Personally, I think this is a difficult topic to form an opinion on. Isn't it a woman's right to drink whether she's pregnant or not? Just as much as it's her right to have an abortion if she so wished? But then again - surely that's totally different. With an abortion, the foetus will never end up as a human being out there in the world possibly suffering from illnesses or disabilities caused by their mother drinking excessively whilst pregnant.

There are so many what-ifs in this debate that it would be practically impossible to please everyone with the outcome. Will pregnant mothers who suffer from alcoholism be just as easily prosecuted as perhaps a pregnant woman who binge drinks over the weekend? What about those women who believe one glass of wine every now and then will do no harm? There's so many different recommendations that contradict each other these days, so where are women supposed to get their advice from?

Firstly, there ought to be a general consensus on just how much alcohol - if any - a pregnant woman is able to drink before it poses a threat to their un-born child. Perhaps if medical professionals can agree on that, we might come closer to making an informed decision on whether this idea of prosecution is feasible. Secondly, there would have to be an overwhelming majority vote, considering some might say that this is essentially taking away pregnant women's human rights. Lastly, how on earth would this be policed?

Realistically, if the government decided that the health of an un-born child was more important than the human rights of a pregnant woman, how would that be enforced? If a woman went out for a wild weekend without knowing she was pregnant - however far along she may be - would she be prosecuted? If a woman was pregnant, binge drinking excessively but then decided that an abortion would be the best option, would she be prosecuted? There are so, so many different reasons why this would not be a realistic, enforceable law.

Perhaps the people suggesting this change in the law, haven't thought about how many young girls, in their teenage years and early twenties have abortions. Safe, legal abortions. These procedures aren't available world-wide unfortunately and that too often puts girls' and women's lives in danger. So if this law was passed, would those girls maybe hide their pregnancies for fear of prosecution? That may lead to complications later on in the pregnancy, or complications for the mother herself. Of course the harm caused to an un-born child should be equally as important - I'm not for a second condoning binge drinking whilst pregnant, simply pointing out a woman's right to do so if she wishes. This has the potential to put the well-being of all pregnant mothers directly at risk.

It's the age-old debate; pro-choice or pro-life. I expect that the people who disagree with abortion in the first place would be more likely to agree with this proposal, but similar to the abortion debate - the government has to put the well-being and human rights of both pregnant mothers and un-born babies into great consideration. If the public had to vote on this matter tomorrow, I for one certainly wouldn't know which side my vote would fall. How would you vote?