By Wesley J. Smith
There should be no such thing as a “wrongful life” or “wrongful birth.” But lawsuits are filed from time-to-time seeking damages because a baby was born that the parents would have destroyed in the womb “had they only known.” For example, a few months ago we discussed one such case in Israel. These cases are different than a legal malpractice suit in which the actions or inactions of the doctor caused the illness or disability. Rather, the claim is that the child would have been aborted if the parents had been properly told about the nature of the baby that they received.
The latest front on this assault on human exceptionalism and unconditional love is a “wrongful life” lawsuit in Portland involving a Down syndrome child. From the Oregonian story:
On the June 2007 day their daughter was born, Ariel and Deborah Levy were overcome with excitement, then shock when hospital staff told them their daughter looked like she had Down syndrome. A doctor asked Deborah Levy if she’d had a prenatal test — a chorionic villus sampling, or CVS for short — and Levy said yes, the results showed they’d have a normal, healthy child. Within days of her birth, however, a blood test confirmed that the little girl, Kalanit, had Down syndrome.
The Levys filed suit against Legacy Health, claiming that Deborah Levy would have aborted her pregnancy had she known her daughter had the chromosomal abnormality.The lawsuit blames Legacy’s Center for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in North Portland and a Legacy lab for allegedly botching the test. The Levys — who dearly love their daughter, now 4 — want Legacy to pay for the extra life-time costs of caring for her. That is estimated at about $3 million.
We love her totally but would have killed her before she was born? I hope never learns that her parents brought this case. And I hope the jury rejects it out of hand. Doctors are not guarantors of outcomes. We don’t–or at least shouldn’t–have a right to the baby we want. Most importantly, none of us should ever be declared in law to have been wrongfully born.
Update: The jury decrees the baby should never have been born (See “Parents win $2.9 million ‘wrongful birth’ lawsuit in Oregon”)
Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s great blog.