EU Won’t Protect Unborn, Countries Must Decide Own Abortion Laws
by Maria Gallagher
July 12, 2004
Brussels, Belgium (LifeNews.com) — The European Union refused last week to grant full human rights to unborn children, saying that the governments of individual nations must decide the issue for themselves.
The European Court of Human Rights, the continent’s top human rights court, said last Thursday it could not issue a decision on a case involving a French woman who was forced into having an abortion after a physician’s tragic mistake.
Thi-Nho Vo argued France had violated the right to life of her unborn child after French courts refused to convict the doctor on a charge of involuntary homicide. Vo was six months’ pregnant at the time of the baby’s death.
But a majority on the 17-judge panel countered that the controversy over when the right to life begins "was a question to be decided at national level…because the issue had not been decided within the majority of states" which have approved the European Convention on human rights.
The court claimed that, across Europe, "There was no consensus on the nature and…status of the embryo and/or fetus."
Vo appealed her case to the European court after France’s high court overturned the doctor’s conviction on involuntary homicide charges. The French court ruled Vo’s unborn child was not yet a human being entitled to the protection of criminal law.
The European Court ruled 14-2 that "it was neither desirable, nor even possible…to answer in the abstract the question whether the unborn child was a person." The presiding judge abstained from the vote.
Meanwhile, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Europe’s largest pro-life group, said the European court ruling is one part of a "pincer movement" by "pro-abortion politicians, doctors and judges to enshrine abortion on demand across Europe."
SPUC spokesman Anthony Ozimic said, "Pro-abortion judges are forming a pincer movement with pro-abortion politicians to abolish any legal restraints which protect unborn children from intentional killing."
Ozimic added, "We have already seen this week Lord Steel calling for an explicit right to abortion to be enshrined in British law for the first time, under the guise of misleading comments about abortion after 12 weeks." Tony Blair has expressed interest in these proposals.
"Today’s Strasbourg ruling makes David Steel’s proposals even more dangerous, because they could be taken as a cue for all European states to enshrine a right to abortion on demand," Ozimic said.
Pro-abortion groups applauded the European Court decision.
"This was obviously a tragic individual case but we are pleased that the judges have ruled to reject the applicant’s case," Anne Weyman of the London-based Family Planning Association said.
Weyman said the "decision will safeguard the laws on abortion which have been widely adopted in the European member states, and will serve to protect women’s rights to life, health, self-determination and equality."
But pro-life activists note that it is difficult to claim that European women have self-determination, when doctors can end the lives of their unborn children without their consent.
The evidence indicates the 36-year-old Vo, who lives in Bourg-en-Bresse, France, was a victim of mistaken identity.
In November of 1991, Vo went to a hospital in Lyon for an examination. On the same day, another Vietnamese woman with the same surname, Thanh Van Vo, went to the hospital to have a contraceptive coil removed from her uterus.
The gynecologist became confused, thought the pregnant Vo wanted a coil removed, and proceeded to pierce her amniotic sac. As a result, Vo ended up undergoing an abortion.
Pro-life leaders say Vo’s baby might have been saved — if the gynecologist had used proper diagnostic techniques.
Also, they point out that an unborn child of six months’ gestation should be recognized as a human being under European law.
"We will be examining the judgment to see whether the judges were appraised of evidence such as the latest ultrasound techniques showing babies active and responsive at much younger ages than baby Vo," the SPUC’s Ozimic said.
Related web sites:
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children – https://www.spuc.org.uk