Court Upholds “Right Not to Be Born”

PARIS, JULY 15, 2001 ( This country´s highest court of appeal has ruled that disabled children are entitled to compensation if their mothers were not given the chance to abort them, Agence France-Presse reported.

The ruling follows a case brought by three families with physically deformed children, who argued that if doctors had detected the unborn children´s disabilities they would have had abortions instead.

Physicians, activists for the disabled, and pro-life groups have reacted with outrage, describing the decision by the Cour de Cassation as an incentive toward eugenics, news reports said.

The ruling last week upheld a landmark decision which awarded a mentally retarded boy damages last year because he had not been aborted. The case was widely described as establishing in law a disabled child´s “right not to be born.”

The Collective to Stop Discrimination against the Disabled responded angrily. “This is a real act of phobia,” it said. “Now parents are going to be attacked and seen as irresponsible because they gave birth to a handicapped child.”

Doctors say the fear of being sued for a misdiagnosis would encourage them to recommend abortions at the slightest hint of a disability.

“The ruling means that the handicapped have no place in our society,” said Yves Richard, a lawyer representing the medical profession.