After Birth: Maternal Liability for Antenatal Conduct?

John Seymour

in Childbirth and the Law

Published in print July 2000 | ISBN: 9780198264682
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682759 | DOI:
After Birth: Maternal Liability for Antenatal Conduct?

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Chapter 9 suggested that the law should not seek to coerce or control a pregnant woman in an attempt to protect her fetus. This conclusion would preclude all forms of legal intervention against the woman before her child is born. This chapter addresses the question of whether a woman whose negligent conduct has resulted in her child being born with injuries or disabilities should be liable to a damages claim by the child. It is not difficult to envisage situations in which a woman’s conduct during pregnancy might be considered negligent. Antenatal behaviour fitting this description includes smoking, taking illicit drugs, or excessive alcohol consumption. Before considering the possibility of a woman being liable to her child for such conduct, it is necessary to review the law on parents’ liability to damages claims by their children. If parents are in all circumstances immune to such claims, there can be no basis on which to suggest that a woman might be liable to her child in respect of antenatal behaviour.

Keywords: pregnant woman; maternal liability; pregnancy; damages; antenatal behaviour; parental liability

Chapter.  12886 words. 

Subjects: Medical and Healthcare Law

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