French Down's Syndrome Child Paid for Being Born

Paris, France - A court in France has ruled that a child with Down's syndrome is entitled to damages for having been born. Certain judges in the high court of appeal still think it is better to be dead than handicapped.

The boy's parents had already received money for medical negligence, but the appeals court has now ordered the sum to be substantially increased.

Groups representing people with handicaps have expressed their anger at the decision.

The boy, who has been named only as Lionel, was born with Down's syndrome in 1995.

Five years later, a court awarded his parents damages of around $100,000, because a gynaecologist had not spotted the signs of Down's syndrome during the pregnancy. Now, France's highest court has ruled that those damages should be substantially increased because his parents would have had an abortion had they known he would be born with a disability.

This ruling confirms another ruling made last November in the landmark case of Nicola Peruche, a teenager who was born severely handicapped after doctors failed to diagnose his mother had contracted rubella. In a highly controversial decision, which raised a whole host of ethical questions, the court decided that Nicola Peruche could sue doctors for being born.

The latest ruling has further outraged groups that defend the rights of the disabled.

They are still trying to fight the Peruche decision in the courts and are angry that judges continue to decide that it is better to be dead than handicapped.

The case has also alarmed doctors, who say the growing number of law suits is putting pressure on them to order pregnancies to be terminated, even when there is only the slightest doubt.

Pro-Life Infonet
3. desember 2001