This article examines the scope of application of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to the unborn foetus. The focus of the articles is on the case of Vo v France, and, in particular, on the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on a state's obligation to protect life in respect of both voluntary and involuntary, negligent terminations of pregnancies. The last part of the article reviews abortion laws in Europe and the US and suggests that a gradualist moral perspective on the status of the embryo could justify the imposition of criminal penalties for foetal death caused by violent conduct against a pregnant woman without prejudice to the rights of the woman. © The Author . Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.