The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Thursday, July 08, 2004
European judges duck start of life question
On December 8 2003, I mentioned that the European Court of Human Rights  were hearing arguments in the case of Vo v France, where a woman who was obliged to undergo an abortion of a fetus damaged by medical negligence was claiming that the right to life of the fetus under Article 2 of the ECHR had been violated.
The ruling is now in ; the opinions are long - in the common law style, a million miles from the laconic French method, indecipherable without the benefit of the notes one finds in Dalloz and like publications - and fully recite the facts and prior litigation in the French courts.
In a sort of anti-Dred Scott, the Court rules that, even if the fetus were entitled to the protection of Article 2 - as being a human being - the French government would have satisfied its obligations towards it.
The Court therefore sidestepped the need to rule on the big issue: like the Supremes' finding that Jose Padilla had named the wrong respondent in his habeas corpus petition!
The Court justifies its self-denying ordinance by the fact that different countries disagree on the question whether, and, if so, from what point and for which purposes, a fetus is a person in law: it's a self-preservation society, of course. But at least it did no harm .
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