The Ethical and Legal Conundrum: Should a Mother Owe a Duty of Care to her Unborn Child?

Christina Do, Jackie Mapulanga-Hulston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


It is likely that, for emotional and moral reasons, the vast majority of society would agree with the proposition that a mother ought to care for and protect her unborn child. However, it is questionable whether those same members of society would all agree with the imposition of a broad, legally enforceable duty of care on an expectant mother, when armed with knowledge of the consequences that may flow from breach of such a duty. This research paper seeks to examine the competing international policy considerations in order to conclude whether the imposition of such a duty is appropriate and acceptable in modern Australia. This analysis will compare the approaches to such a duty in Canada and the United Kingdom.

Presently in Australia, the circumstances under which a mother owes a duty of care to her unborn child are not settled. The Australian legislature and judiciary are yet to reach a definitive conclusion as to the extent of the duty of care owed by a mother to her unborn child.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of Applied Law and Policy (JALAP)
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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