STRASBOURG, December 10, 2003 ( – The European Court of Human Rights heard a case Wednesday morning which sought to establish that unborn children have the right to life. A ruling on the case is expected in several weeks.  LifeSite has learned that the only two NGO’s to which the European Court granted intervener status were Family Planning Association (London) and the Centre for Reproductive Rights (New York), both pro-abortion activist organizations.  The case was brought by French national, Thi-Nho Vo, who was born in 1967 and lives in Bourg-en-Bresse France.

On November 27, 1991, when she was six months’ pregnant, Vo went to Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Lyons for a medical examination. On the same day another woman, Mrs Thanh Van Vo, was due to have a coil removed at the same hospital. Because of a mix-up caused by the fact that both women had the same surname, the doctor who examined the Vo pierced her amniotic sac and court documents indicate that the action made “a therapeutic abortion necessary.”  Following a criminal complaint lodged by Vo in 1991, Dr. Francois Golfier was charged with causing unintentional injury. The charge was subsequently increased to one of unintentional homicide. On June 3 1996, Lyons Criminal Court acquitted Golfier. Vo appealed and, on March 13 1997, Lyons Court of Appeal overturned the Criminal Court’s judgment, convicted the doctor of unintentional homicide and sentenced him to six-months’ imprisonment, suspended, and a fine of 10,000 French francs. On June 30, 1999, following an appeal on points of law, the Court of Cessation reversed the Court of Appeal’s judgment, holding that the facts of the case did not constitute the offence of involuntary homicide since the court refused to consider the unborn child a human being entitled to the protection of the criminal law.  Vo applied to the European Court of Human Rights on December 20, 1999. On May 22, 2003 the Chamber of the Court, decided that the case was of such serious significance it would be heard by the Grand Chamber of 17 judges rather than the normal 7 judge Chamber.

On November 25, 2003 the President of the Grand Chamber granted the two pro-abortion groups leave to intervene as third parties in the proceedings.  Relying on Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Vo’s lawyer, Bruno Le Griel, objected to the authorities’ refusal to classify the unintentional killing of Vo’s unborn child as involuntary homicide. Vo maintains that France has an obligation to pass legislation making such acts a criminal offence.  Le Griel, told the BBC: “I will be asking the court to recognise reality, that is to say the human life, a human being, begins at the moment of conception.  Who would dare tell my client to her face that what she was carrying, what she lost as a result of a mistake in the hospital, was nothing more than a cluster of cells and was not a human child – her child?”  Nuala Scarisbrick, of the Life, the pro life charity, told the BBC: “This is a landmark case.  If the EU judges follow common sense and the evidence of their eyes they will say ‘of course that baby was a real, living human being’, and that will be a legal earthquake – here in the UK, across Europe and eventually across the world – which will destroy abortionism.”  Jim Hughes, Vice President of the International Right to Life Federation told LifeSite that the European Court was negligent in granting intervener status to two pro-abortion activist organizations without seeking input from the many pro-life NGO’s, as a case of such importance warrants.  See the BBC coverage: