Home News French law tested over abortion accident

French law tested over abortion accident

Published on 10/12/2003

STRASBOURG, Dec 10 (AFP) - The European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday began hearing a right-to-life case brought by a 36-year-old French woman who wants the accidental abortion of her unborn child classified as homicide.

Thi-Nho Vo, who lost her baby in 1991 due to a hospital mix-up when she was only six months pregnant, has denounced French authorities’ “refusal to classify as involuntary homicide the attack on the life of the unborn child she was carrying”.

She contends that France should pass legislation making such an incident a criminal offence, punishable by law.

The incident occurred when Thi-Nho Vo of Bourg-en-Bresse went to the Hotel-Dieu hospital in the nearby city of Lyon for a regular pre-natal medical check-up. Another patient with a similar name was in the same hospital the same day to have an intrauterine device removed.

A mix-up led to the procedure being performed on Thi-Nho Vo, rupturing her amniotic fluids and forcing doctors to perform a therapeutic abortion.

Thi-Nho Vo immediately filed a criminal complaint in French courts in 1991 against the doctor, who was initially charged with unintentional injury before the charge was changed to the more serious of unintentional homicide.

After a four-year lawsuit, the doctor was acquitted but then convicted on appeal the following year, given a six-month suspended prison sentence and fined FF 10,000 (about USD 1,500).

In a new appeal in 1999, a Lyon court reversed the conviction, stating that the “facts of the case did not constitute the offence of involuntary homicide” and “thus refused to consider the foetus as a human being entitled to the protection of the criminal law”.

 © AFP

                                                                Subject: France news