French High Court Rules Child Had Right to Be Aborted

Indemnifies Down-Syndrome Boy

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PARIS, NOV. 30, 2001 ( The French Supreme Court decided that a Down syndrome child must be indemnified for the harm his birth caused him, because his «right» not to be born was not respected.

The high court asked the Paris Court of Appeal to recalculate the amount of the indemnification for the suffering caused Lionel, who was born in January 1995.

Lionel´s mother estimated the material needs of her child in the future to amount to $603,234, although the Rennes Court of Appeal estimated $87,136.

The gynecologist did not tell the parents about the problem. Had he done so, they would have asked for an abortion.

With this decision, the Supreme Court confirmed the controversial jurisprudence established a year ago in the «Perruche case,» reaffirmed in July in another case.

Nicolas Perruche was born severely handicapped as a result of rubella, which doctors failed to detect during the mother´s pregnancy. Consequently, she was deprived of the possibility of killing him through abortion.

The court decided that Nicolas should be indemnified for the harm he suffered by being born because of a medical error. The decision has been much criticized by associations for the handicapped and by religious, political, medical and judicial authorities.

In a message sent last Friday to the Catholic Social Week in France, John Paul II severely criticized French Justice´s support of the elimination of unborn handicapped children.

Bishop André Vingt-Trois, president of the episcopal Commission for the Family, said that the court´s decision is an offense to those who accept handicapped children.

«I think with sadness of all those families who have taken in a mongoloid child, and surrounded him with love, received his love in turn,» the bishop told Agence France-Presse. The court´s decision implies that «it is not worthwhile to experience such love. Thus it discredits those who have accepted and lived such love.»

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