What is the ECHR’s position on conscientious objection to prenatal diagnosis for eugenic purposes?

Publié le 20 Mar, 2016

On 11 March, a Spanish doctor submitted “a request for recognition of the violation of his freedom of conscience” to the European Court of Human Rights. The latter must now pass judgment for the first time on “conscientious objection to prenatal diagnosis for eugenic purposes”.


This doctor “has, however, refused to participate in abortion on conscientious grounds”.  Nevertheless, in 2008, “his Head of Department forced him to perform prenatal diagnostic consultations on a daily basis”. This diagnosis “is the first step in the process that leads – if a disease or deformity is detected – to an abortion due to genetic inheritance or the unborn child’s state of health”. This link “between screening and abortion has been established both in law and in practice: 90% of affected foetuses who were detected were subsequently aborted”.


The doctor in question “called for the Spanish legal system to recognise his right to conscientious objection” but to no avail. He has submitted his request to the ECHR with the backing of the ECLJ[1], which has organised a March conference on conscientious objection in the medical profession to be held in Geneva.

[1] European Centre for Law and Justice.



ECLJ (21/03/2016)

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