Updated: Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 @ 5:30pm

Should drinking alcohol while pregnant be illegal? Two out of three in Manchester say no

Should drinking alcohol while pregnant be illegal? Two out of three in Manchester say no

| By Richard Brown

A landmark hearing at the Court of Appeal today could make drinking alcohol while pregnant a criminal offence.

If the court awards criminal compensation to a 6-year-old girl whose mother's excessive drinking caused her daughter’s ‘growth retardation’ we could see a widespread ban in the coming years.

The ruling on liability for the young girl’s disorder, caused by Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, could pave the way to mass changes in the way we think about pregnancy in a legal sense.

With this in mind, MM took to the streets to ask Manchester this question:

Should drinking alcohol during pregnancy be illegal?

Option

Result

Yes

33%

No

67%

 

The majority of people voted against illegalising alcohol consumption during pregnancy citing a wide range of potential pitfalls for the embryonic idea.

 52-year-old Robert McCluskey, an architect from Knutsford, said: “The child doesn't exist yet so the mother has the right to her own life.

“There are plenty of other things that endanger children. An awareness campaign is enough and then, in a free society, it's their own choice.”


NANNY STATE: Lesly Howard doesn't think we should legislate drinking while pregnant

Lesley Howard, also 52 and an accountant living in Bredbury, agreed, telling MM: “It is a personal choice. Any sensible person would know that it is not a good thing to drink too much. We're becoming a nanny state.”

Tim Fanning, 33, questioned the logistics of imposing such restrictions. The economist from Withington said: “It would be difficult to police. I'm not sure how effective it would actually be.

“Alcohol in a limited amount I think is okay, say if you have a glass of wine once a week. Obviously having much more than that is irresponsible but I'm not sure how you could enforce a ban. I think we need education rather than a ban.”

Sarah Niblock offered a more personal perspective on the issue. The 40-year-old media worker from Marple said: “Mothers shouldn't be doing it, but I don't think it should be made illegal.

“Half a pint of lager isn't going to do anything. I've had three healthy children when I've drank a tiny amount and had no problems.”

Cassie Widders, a 26-year-old Manchester education worker originally from North Wales, said: “It depends on how much you drink. It would be terrible if you locked up someone for drinking a glass of wine. It's bad to do for an overall ban wouldn't work.”


YOUR CHOICE: Sam Redfern said it is an individual's choice as unborn babies have no rights

Sam Redfern also backed a 'no' vote, with the 28-year-old doctor from Didsbury telling MM: “It is an individual choice.

“As long as alcohol is legal, you can't litigate against it. Until a child is born, it doesn't have any legal rights.”

Andrew Vincent, 46, a Derby-based leadership specialist was more uncertain. He told MM: “It's a complex issue. There's a medical issue as well as a human rights issue, because the impact is not on the person drinking, but the child.

“If you make drinking illegal you would have to look at other things like smoking. I'd say no to making it illegal but I think more effort needs to be put in to discourage it”

Shaz Clinton, 20, a charity worker who lives in the city centre was equally unsure, saying: “On the one hand people should respect that it is the mother's own body. If they wish to make that conscious decision it is up to them.

“Protecting a child is obviously important though so whether somebody should step in and tell them what to do is a big question mark for me.”


BLURRED LINES: Amy Cameron said even going for a job can be dangerous when you're pregnant

Alex Daraio and Amy Cameron, two friends from Australia, engaged in a fiery debate on the subject, with 23-year-old Alex eventually convincing Amy, a year younger of voting in favour of criminalising the act.

Alex, who currently studies in London, told MM: “I think you have a responsibility as a parent. Everyone has the right to parenthood but it's just something you shouldn't do.

“There are things that children have to do like going to school so there are things parents should have to do as well. It's abusive parenting to drink excessively. If you do it, you're not fit to be a parent.”

Amy, a teacher, expressed some doubts. She said: “It's not something I would ever do but I don't think it could be enforced. Going for a job while you're pregnant can be dangerous, there are blurred lines.”

She was eventually won over.

Main image courtesy ABC News, via YouTube, with thanks