fetal rights

Discussion in 'Women's Issues' started by spooner, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. spooner

    spooner is done.

    i was thinking about a hypothetical situation and wanted a couple second opinions:

    suppose a women had a few drinks while she was pregnant. her son becomes an adult - should he be able to sue her? what responsability does the mother have for this?
  2. Aristartle

    Aristartle Snow Falling on Cedars Lifetime Supporter

    Um. Does her son have a medical condition?
  3. icedteapriestess

    icedteapriestess linguistic freak

    and just how many drinks are "a few"?
  4. Aristartle

    Aristartle Snow Falling on Cedars Lifetime Supporter

    I think he should be able to try and sue her, but I don't think he should be successful unless it could be proven that she purposefully tried to harm, kill, or abuse her baby/fetus.
  5. spooner

    spooner is done.

    It was more to highlight the question of whether a mother should be held accountable for harm done to a fetus.

    It can be anything, really. Cigarettes, blow, drinking, etc.
  6. lola78

    lola78 Member

    There is no legal definition of fetal rights in the U.S. for just the reason you mention. Anyone who comes of age could turn around and sue their mother for things she did during pregnancy. Such as smoke, drink, skydive. Anything high risk really.
  7. baloon

    baloon Member

    that is interesting, as far as I know fetus has a status lower than a man, for the very reason that it is impossible to declare it a person (past embryotic stage, still threatened by miscarriage until 5th month, lungs not developed until 8th month --> fetus has low chance of survival before 9th month without intensive care)
    BUT, in my opinion, once a woman decides to have ONE unprotected intercourse, she already knows she could have become pregnant. Therefore it is her responsibility to find out, and protect the possible baby. I definitely get upset when I encounter such carelesness.
    And then there is that whole feminist thing with their rights to do whatever they want to their body at all times etc.
  8. Aristartle

    Aristartle Snow Falling on Cedars Lifetime Supporter

    When was the mother aware of her pregnancy? After being a heroine addict for 15 years?

    I don't think the mother could be accountable for harm done to a fetus - much like a father can't be accountable for doing harm to his sperm.

    I think certain stages of a pregnancy should be considere however. I mean, that is why we have abortion laws. I think it would be extremely difficult to enforce responsibility on the mother for the overall health of her child. Accute conditions that are deliberate, I think, have more a chance in a court case. Something like doing blow, cigarettes and/or drinking - while pregnant are damaging risks. But why doesn't the son sue his father for getting a drug addict pregnant? Why doesn't he sue his grandmother for not taking her to rehab, detox, a caregiver??? Does the father have just as much responsibility to the fetus if both parents weren't aware they were pregnant and did truckloads of blow?
  9. baloon

    baloon Member

    well let me say this...
    why the hell people have sex?????
    If you don't want babies, do not fuck without the contraceptives, condoms, pills, IUD, anything !!!!!! does not matter wheter you are on drugs, or not, as long as you have a uterus or a penis, you CAN cause pregnancy. I say this in a rude fashion since I am about to be a parent and it is something anyone can do --> plan their pregnancy, quit drugs, and take care.
  10. MikeE

    MikeE Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    Children have tried to sue their parents for poor parenting. Those cases have always been decided in favor of the parent.

    I don't know about any cases where a child sued an abusive parent for damages.

    Are the hypothetical "few drinks" lousy parenting or does it rise to "abuse"? The jury would have to decide that.

    If everyone planned and took care, there would be fewer lawers. Law has to deal with not only what CAN be done, but what IS done.

    Addition to the original question, would the father (who abandoned the pregnant woman and drove her to drink) also be liable?
  11. DancerAnnie

    DancerAnnie Resident Beach Bum

    I suppose it depends on if their lawyer could prove that their problem (i.e. stunted intellectual growth, certain diseases, etc.) was BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT caused by the mother's irresponsibility. *shrugs* That seems pretty hard to do.
  12. spooner

    spooner is done.

    Its pretty hard to blame FAS on anything else.
  13. spooner

    spooner is done.

    Direct Harm vs. Indirect Harm.
  14. hummblebee

    hummblebee hipstertist.


    ^^We've already been talking about a similar "fetal rights" issue this week. ^^

    Personally, I think what it really comes down to, though, is another way to control women's bodies. Not that I'm, in any way shape or form, condoning things like drinking or smoking while pregnant. But setting legal precident (sp) like this is dangerous; it brings us one step closer to raising the rights of the unborn above the rights of the women who bear them. To me, that is very scary!
  15. MikeE

    MikeE Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    Careful. Phrases like "rights of the unborn" imply that the unborn have legal rights and are therefore...people??

    Or are "rights of the unborn" like "animal rights"; emotional appeals with no recognition in the law.
  16. Dr Phibes

    Dr Phibes Banned

    I wonder whether the mother could claim that her son has no rights in this matter since she could have chosen to abort but didnt. The abortion would have meant that his rights ended perse'.
    The fact that he has any rights is because she chose not to abort

    Judith jarvis thompson has written much on the subject and has a lot to offer in the way of interesting logical argument
    Thompson is a pro abortionist but not entirely - she has limits

    also another excellent book is by
    Jonathan Glover "Causing Death and Saving Lives", (Penguin, 1977)
    This is a full discussion of the pro - anti arguments and possibilities of the
    rights a woman has and the rights of a foetus
  17. hummblebee

    hummblebee hipstertist.

    That was exactly the point I was trying to make - this idea could set a very dangerous legal precedent. Whenever an argument like this comes up - especially as a "hot-button issue" in the mass media, you really need to look past the immediate effects, and into the possible reprucussions.
  18. Night_Owl49

    Night_Owl49 Since 2006

    I'm not sure if anything can be done years after the fact.

    Remember Courtney Love slipping up and admitting she used smack while she was pregnant? I believe they had custody taken away from them for awhile.
  19. Dr Phibes

    Dr Phibes Banned

    I'm not so sure - I think it would depend on the nature of the claim against the mother. I think if she had negligently pursued a habit of smoking - against the best medical advice there could be a case later because any defects it caused may not have shown at an earlier stage of development.
    I know someone who was told by doctors that she would definately NEVER get pregnant and had known this since she was a child.
    the best doctors had said there was something wrong with her reproductive system. She took Heroin a few times and during that time she became pregnant. From the age of 11 or 12 till she was 20 she had been regularly examined and told that it would be impossible for her to get pregnant. The baby was born with brain defects known as the side effects of Heroin abuse during pregnancy. Surely there could be no claim in this case?
  20. moon_flower

    moon_flower Banned

    I think if the woman knew she was pregnant, and chose to keep the baby instead of aborting it, she should be held fully responsible for what happens to the child inside her womb. A woman who gets pregnant and chooses to stay pregnant should realize that she must give up anything that is harmful or could be harmful to that baby....it's not just about her anymore. That's not a bad thing (life being about someone other than oneself.)....but a lot of women don't realize it....or choose to follow it.
    If the woman drinks while pregnant, and causes damage to the baby, I think she should definitely be up for a lawsuit. It was her choice to mother the baby, it was her choice to drink....knowing it could mess her baby up.

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