European court urged not to accredit Down's syndrome tests

Groups supporting people with Down's syndrome on Thursday called on the European Court of Human Rights not to recognise the right to tests that would detect the condition before birth.

The Strasbourg-based court must "recognise the human condition and protect the right to life of people with Down's syndrome and those handicapped", said the 30 associations from 16 countries.

The groups were meeting as the court was examining the case of a Latvian mother, Anita Kruzmane, whose 10-year-old daughter suffers from the .

Before Latvian courts she had accused her doctors of having failed to offer the , saying it would have allowed her to have an abortion.

After judges rejected her suit, Kruzmane took her case to the European rights court arguing that her right to a proper family life had been violated.

But the head of the international federation of Down's syndrome organisations, Ireland's Patrick Clarke, questioned whether abortions because of a should be a right.

To eradicate a disease is one thing, but to eradicate people with a medical condition is something else, said Clarke who has an adult son with the condition.

For Jean-Marie Le Mene, the head of a French foundation that backs research into Down's syndrome, also known as , the Kruzmane case is part of a larger context in which parents' liberty to keep a trisomic child is "threatened by a policy of eugenics", which aims to improve the of a population.

This policy which paths the way to almost systematic screening leads to abortions in almost all cases in which the foetus is found to be trisomic, said Le Mene.

"This is not about questioning screening or abortions but about a situation in which abortions are carried out without asking questions," he said. "We must fight these prejudices that turn a trisomic person into a calamity."

The court was expected to rule within the next few months.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Abortions up in England, Wales in 2006

Jun 19, 2007

The number of women having abortions in England and Wales was up almost 4 percent in 2006 from the previous year, the Health Department said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

US must respond to global health outbreaks, say bioethicists

Mar 05, 2015

Last summer, West Africa fell into the grip of a deadly outbreak of Ebola that has thus far taken the lives of more than 9,500 people. The fear swept up by the epidemic quickly jumped across the Atlantic and landed in the ...

Uganda on defensive over medical 'brain drain' uproar

Mar 03, 2015

Uganda's government on Tuesday hit back at mounting criticism of plans to 'export' over 200 health workers to the Caribbean, insisting it was only seeking to regulate an existing labour market and prevent abuses.

Seth Mnookin on vaccination and public health

Mar 02, 2015

Seth Mnookin, an assistant professor of science writing and associate director of MIT's Graduate Program in Science Writing, is the author of "The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy" ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.