Italy Court Rejects Wrongful Birth Suit: Disabled Baby Has Right to Be Born

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 18, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italy Court Rejects Wrongful Birth Suit: Disabled Baby Has Right to Be Born Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 18, 2006

Rome, Italy ( — A leading Italian court has rejected the wrongful birth lawsuit brought by a couple who says a doctor failed to inform them of their child’s physical handicap during the pregnancy. The court said there is no "right not to be born" or "not to be born if unhealthy."

The Casssation Court says Italian law protects the unborn child "for birth, exclusively."

It rejected the couple’s argument that the doctor should have told them about the potential physical disability so they could have opted for an abortion or travel to a country where courts would have backed their decision to end the life of their baby.

The Italian Supreme Court overturned the sentence issued by the Trieste Appeals Court that found the doctor guilty, according to a report by the Italian AGI news service.

In rejecting the wrongful birth lawsuit, the court said that "the compensation of the damage for not aborting is not automatically a consequence of failing to fulfill the duties of giving accurate information the doctor was bound to carry out."

Italian law, according to statute 194, says abortion is only allowed "in order to avoid danger for the mother of the child." As a result, "a so-called ‘eugenic’ abortion is not admissible, unless fetal deformations endanger the mother’s health," the Italy court ruled.

Pro-life groups have long opposed so-called wrongful-birth lawsuits.

"These lawsuits undermine societal efforts to change negative attitudes toward the value of
persons with disabilities, and encourage parents to publicly assert that they wish that their children with disabilities had never been born," Ohio Right to Life legislative director Mary Lally told

After his state prohibited such lawsuits, he said, "By banning ‘wrongful birth’ and ‘wrongful life’ lawsuits, the Ohio General Assembly has wisely rejected the view that death or nonexistence is preferable to life with a disability."