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The Perruche judgment and the “right not to be born”
  1. M Spriggs,
  2. J Savulescu
  1. Ethics Program, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Childrens Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Victoria, 3052, Australia;;

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    Overruling of law said to establish the “right not to be born”

    The French government has given in to public pressure and overturned a controversial legal ruling which recognised the right of a disabled chld to seek damaages. Most notably, the ruling, widely described as establishing a child's right “not to be born”, had provoked “outrage” amongst groups defending the rights of the disabled and led to a ban on prenatal scans by French gynaecologists. Once again, only parents will be able to seek damages but some people think the ruling has been misinterpreted.

    The Perruche judgment, a controversial ruling which has been said to establish the “right not to be born”, has now been overruled by a majority of the National Assembly of the French Parliament.1, 2 A bill has been put forward which states “no one can sue for damages for the sole fact of their birth”. It was considered by the senate until January 22, 2002.2

    In 1982, Josette Perruche discovered red spots covering her four year old daughter. The child was diagnosed with German measles. Mrs Perruche told her …

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