Can an unborn child be a victim?

  • November 7, 2014
  • mmassen
  • Comments Off on Can an unborn child be a victim?


The High Court is soon to make a ruling on whether drinking excessive alcohol while pregnant is to be regarded as a criminal offence, the reason behind this question is to see whether a child who was born with foetal alcohol syndrome (a condition resulting from such activity) has been the victim of a crime of violence.

If a victim of a crime of violence then there is an entitlement to seek an award from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) a government body that makes payment to the victims of violent crime.

Aside from this particular child there are far greater reaching implications with regards to the criminalising such an action and the argument that such a decision will take from women the right of determination over their own bodies. This would seem to negate responsibility for their unborn child however, in the writer’s opinion the key issue is the question as to whether an unborn child can be regarded as a victim ?

In the area of probate law an unborn child or ‘enventre sa mere’ is, if subsequently born alive, is regarded as a separate entity for the purposes of inheritance and therefore it could be argued, if following this principle, an unborn child can be the victim of crime.

Likewise if a pregnant woman is stabbed and the foetus injured to a point that it dies after being born there can be a prosecution for manslaughter again implying that a crime can be committed against an unborn child.

The High Court have heard all the arguments and their judgement is expected soon.

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