Prosecutors Urge Legal Recognition of Fetus as Person

Unborn Child Died After Traffic Accident

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PARIS, JUNE 25, 2001 ( A fetus is juridically a life from its conception and therefore must be protected against crimes, says the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the French Supreme Court.

The office made this argument when it appealed to the court in a case involving an unborn child who died after an accident caused by a drunken driver.

«The fetus has its own biological life; from its conception, doctors regard it as a patient,» the Public Prosecutor´s Office emphasized in a statement. It asked if «the death of a child about to be born is a ´non-fact.´»

The Supreme Court may decide this week if a drunken driver who caused a 1995 traffic accident in the region of Moselle is guilty of the involuntary homicide of a fetus.

The driver crashed into a car that carried a woman who was six months pregnant. The crash left her unborn child seriously injured. Doctors then induced an early birth to try to save the baby, but the child was stillborn.

According to the medical report, «The baby did not live because of the serious brain injuries suffered, which are directly related to the accident in which the mother was involved.»

In 1997, the Correctional Court of Metz took the case to the Supreme Court, with the argument that «to cause the death of a baby that is about to be born is an involuntary homicide so long as the fetus was viable at the moment of the accident. It matters little if, after his birth, the baby does not breathe or his heart does not beat.»

The parents´ lawyer has requested the Supreme Court to protect viable fetuses who are stillborn for reasons extraneous to the pregnancy.

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