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   Case summaries      Paton v United Kingdom 8416/78
 
 

Paton v United Kingdom 8416/78 (1981) 3 EHRR 408  European Commission of Human Rights

 
 
The applicant sought an injunction in the High court to prevent his wife from having an abortion. The injunction was refused on the grounds that a foetus has no legal rights until it is born and has a separate existence to it's mother. The abortion was carried out. The applicant claimed that English law on abortion violates Art 2 and 8.
 
Held:
 
Art 2  right to life - No violation - the life of a foetus is not protected under Art 2
 
 
"The ‘life’ of the foetus is intimately connected with, and cannot be regarded in isolation from, the life of the pregnant woman. If Article 2 were held to cover the foetus and its protection under this Article were, in the absence of any express limitation, seen as absolute, an abortion would have to be considered as prohibited even where the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a serious risk to the life of the pregnant woman. This would mean that the ‘unborn life’ of the foetus would be regarded as being of a higher value than the life of the pregnant woman."
 
 
Art 8 - right to respect for family life - No violation - the abortion was justified as being necessary for the protection of life of another person.