French deputies vote to overturn disabled ruling

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The Independent Online

French deputies approved a draft law yesterday reversing a controversial judgment that disabled children have, in effect, a right never to have been born.

French deputies approved a draft law yesterday reversing a controversial judgment that disabled children have, in effect, a right never to have been born.

Deputies voted almost unanimously to overturn a series of judgments by the Cour de Cassation, France's highest appeal court, saying disabled children have an automatic right to compensation if doctors fail to warn their parents of possible abnormalities in the womb.

The draft law now goes to the upper house. It states that disabled children "cannot claim a legal prejudice from the simple fact of having been born". It adds, however, that parents of a "severely handicapped child" can claim compensation if the child's condition was missed in pre-natal examination through "a serious medical error".

The draft law is an attempt to defuse a debate between parents of disabled children, who want legal redress for medical failures, and pressure groups who say the rulings are a statement that disabled people should be eliminated.

In 2000, a doctor was ruled liable for not warning a mother of the possible effects of German measles in pregnancy. Last year, the court found a doctor liable after failing to warn a mother that her child would have Down's syndrome.

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