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Since March 1st, 2010, French citizens have been able to call on a new legal procedure for defending their rights: the priority preliminary ruling on issues of constitutionality (question prioritaire de constitutionnalité, QPC). If, during a trial, a citizen considers that a provision of the applicable law is inconsistent with the Constitution of the French Republic, he/she may request that the matter be referred to the Constitutional Council. One ofthe first QPCs concerned legislation related to the Perruche jurisprudence. In a ruling on November 17th, 2000, the French Supreme Court of Appeal had granted the child Nicolas Perruche the right to financial compensation for the material costs related to his physical disability (caused by congenital rubella). In response, Article 1 of the Patients' Rights and Quality of Care Act (passed on March 4th, 2002) prohibited the award of compensation to a child "just because he/she has been born [with a disability]", i.e. in "wrongful life" claims. Since the enactment of the Act, compensation in a case like Perruche may only be awarded to cover the parents' psychological suffering, rather than the child's status at birth. The application of this "anti-wrongful life claim" legislation has since been subject of heated debate. In a QPC ruling on June 11th, 2010, the Constitutional Council found that Article 1 of the Patients' Rights and Quality of Care Act was (with the exception of its transitional provisions) indeed consistent with the Constitution of the French Republic.


C Manaouil, M Gignon, O Jardé. 10 years of controversy, twists and turns in the Perruche wrongful life claim: compensation for children born with a disability in France. Medicine and law. 2012 Dec;31(4):661-9

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PMID: 23447909

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