Aborting a child with Down Syndrome is not a human right


One of the major points of the ECHR’s final judgement concerning the “AK against Latvia” case applauded by the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation.

Today, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has given its final judgement concerning the “AK against Latvia” case*.

The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation has applauded the fact that the court abstained from considering a child with Down Syndrome a cause of harm to the mother. It did not expressly recognize the abortion of a child with Down Syndrome as a right in the name of the European Convention on Human Rights (article 8 concerning the respect to the right to a privacy), but only and indirectly recognized a right to information of women concerning the health of their expected babies.

The Foundation has noted with satisfaction that the Court did not grant the applicant, on the ground of material harm (the lack of resource and the allowance for the child), the 253.000 euros demanded. Thus, it did not consider that there was any wrong done on the grounds of the birth. The Court indicated that there is no causal link between the procedural violation (see second point) and the demand for pecuniary compensation because of the birth of the child. The violation sanctioned by the Court has nothing to do with the alleged wrong done due to the birth.

The Court adjudicates over a procedural violation.

Judging the case, the Court examined the way the domestic courts had examined the action of the applicant and concluded that their decisions had been arbitrary. It is for this reason that Latvia is been condemned.

A large mobilization against eugenics that was not in vain.

As a reaction to the AK against Latvia case and in order to raise awareness, about thirty organizations specialized in Down Syndrome, amongst whom the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, had launched a common action “Stop Eugenics Now to protect persons with disabilities”. These organizations mobilized around a common declaration “Eugenics is not a human right” (text here) thanks to a petition put online (over 10 000 signatories).

In June 2012, a public hearing in front of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe celebrated this European mobilization. Jean-Marie Le Méné, president of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation spoke during this hearing(text here) at the end of which a project of resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council “Fight eugenics and the discriminations against disabled people” was presented by Lucas Volontè, an Italian deputy, president of the PPE. Download in PDF format.


The Ak against Latvia case was taken in front of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by a Latvian woman, AK. Having given birth to a little girl living with Down Syndrome, she had brought a lawsuit against her doctor because, according to her, he had not informed her of the possibility of carrying out a prenatal screening test. Having been unsuccessful in her country, AK called upon the ECHR in the name of the “right to the respect of privacy and family life.” (Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights).