Reproductive rights


The Court's Press Service has compiled Factsheets by theme on the Court’s case-law and pending cases.


These factsheets are available on the Court's website (


We summarized some of them for our readers and recommend to visit the Court's website on these topics.


  • Medically Assisted Procreation


1. A prisoner with a minimum 15-year sentence to serve for murder, was refused access to artificial insemination facilities to enable him to have a child with his wife who, born in 1972, had little chance of conceiving after his release.


The European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention as a fair balance had not been struck between the competing public and private interests.


E.C.H.R, 04.12.2007, Dickson v. United Kingdom (n°44362/04)



2. The case concerns two Austrian couples wishing to conceive a child through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). One couple needs the use of sperm from donor and the other, donated ova. Austrian law prohibits the use of sperm for in-vitro fertilisation and ova donation in general.


The European Court of Human Rights found that there was no uniform approach to medically-assisted procreation in Europe. However, the laws of States allowing medically-assisted procreation had to be coherent.


The difference in treatment of the two couples, compared to other couples applying for IVF, was not justified, in violation of Articles 8 and 14.

E.C.H.R., 01.04.2010, S.H. and Others v. Austria (no. 57813/00)



  • Prenatal Medical Tests


The applicants are parents of children with severe congenital disabilities which, due to medical errors, were not discovered during prenatal medical examinations. They brought proceedings against the hospitals concerned.


A new law of 4 March 2002, introduced while their proceedings were pending, meant that it was no longer possible to claim compensation from the hospital/doctor responsible for life-long “special burdens” resulting from the child’s disability. The compensation they were awarded did not therefore cover those “special burdens”.

The European Court of Human Rights found that the law in question was in violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention concerning proceedings which were pending when the law came into force. Measures taken following the judgment.


E.C.H.R., 16.10.2005, Draon v. France (no. 1513/03) & Draon & Maurice v. France (no. 11810/03)



  • Forced sterilisation


 Eight Slovak women of Roma ethnic origin found they were unable to conceive after having caesareans. Suspecting that they were sterilised without their knowledge during the operations, they sued the two Slovak hospitals concerned.


The European Court of Human Rights found that the impossibility for the applicants to obtain photocopies of their medical records was in violation of Articles 8 and 6 §1.


E.C.H.R., 28.04.2009, K.H. and Others v. Slovakia (no. 32881/04)