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miscarriage, loss, pregnancy, I forgot

Wrongful Life~Would You Abort Your Baby Under Special Circumstances

by Deborah Cruz

What is wrongful life?

Wrongful Life; the term sends shivers down my spine. How can someone be wrongfully born? You cannot be accidentally born. At some point, there was intent. Someone caused this to happen, it was not accidental.

Wrongful life An event in which legal action may be taken by–or on behalf of the baby suffering from a hereditary or congenital defect, eg Down syndrome or other disease, eg rubella, who would not have been born had the parents had the knowledge to opt for an abortion; WL represents either the failure to diagnose in utero a condition that would lead to a major life-long handicap or recognize such a condition in a sibling, allowing a 2º, similarly afflicted, child to be born; the child is the defendant named in a lawsuit initiated to defray the incurred and anticipated medical, nursing and related health expenses; in both WB and WL, the defendant may be liable for support and care of the infant from ‘cradle to grave’

Ariel and Deborah Levy of Portland, Oregon, filed a “wrongful birth” lawsuit against Legacy Health System. The suit was filed because the Levy’s would have terminated the pregnancy had they known they would give birth to a special-needs child.

The Levy’s were awarded $2.9 million after doctors misdiagnosed their daughter as not having Down syndrome during prenatal screening. Imagine their shock when they delivered and had to unexpectedly adjust all their hopes and dreams because of a negligent doctor.

They had made the effort to have the prenatal screening. They had already made the difficult, if not impossible, decision to abort their child if there was a genetic disorder due to the extreme cost of taking care of the child.

The $2.9 million will only cover the estimated additional lifetime costs of caring for someone with Down syndrome.

Perhaps, just reading the words of this story, it sounds a bit crass or cold. After all, there are women all over the world going through hell and high water to try and conceive a child, any child. I also know many mothers of special needs children who would not trade them in for the entire world. That is a mother’s love.I understand this completely. It’s easy to judge when we are not in the Levy’s situation.

But if you were in the position of the Levy’s, faced with the possibility of a child who you would have to care for their entire life, saddled with a lifetime of extreme medical costs and having to worry if you would live long enough to secure that they were always taken care of, what would you do?

How do you label your baby a wrongful life when you’ve always wanted them?

What would any of us do? How could we know for sure until we were faced with the situation.

Would you consider prenatal genetic screening? Or would it be irrelevant to the pregnancy? When I was younger, there would have been no question. In fact, I declined testing with both of my pregnancies because my thought process was that it simply did not matter. No matter the circumstances. They were my babies and I could never consider termination. In retrospect, that was a bit naive on my part.

Now, that I am older; risks are higher, my lifetime is shorter and  having two other children, I simply could not afford the high costs of caring for a child with extreme special needs. At 39, I would have to consider a scenario that I would have vehemently refused 8 years ago. I don’t know for sure how I would feel if I ever found myself in the Levy’s shoes. I hope I never do because I imagine it was a very painful and stressful situation to even consider. I do know that the malpractice on the part of the doctors has altered their lives forever, against their will.

They didn’t sign up for this. They love their little girl, she is their little girl but they have a very tough road ahead of them, even if it is peppered with having the honor of loving this little girl.I wish the world were a better place and things like this never even had to be thought about. I wish all babies were born healthy, all women who wanted babies could get pregnant and we all had an endless supply of money, tome and patience but that’s not reality.

How to do you feel about this case? Would you ever consider aborting a baby that you knew was going to have extreme incurable medical issues? Do you think the doctors should be held accountable in the case of a wrongful life? Do you need the help of a medical malpractice attorney who can help you if you need legal action?

Is there such a thing as wrongful life?


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js 2012/03/21 - 1:35 pm

You wrote that CVS and amniocentesis are supposed to be 99% accurate in detecting. I don’t know if this is true but those tests only screen for certain common genetic abnormalities. We had the screening done but our child was born with a rare cogenital disorder, which is very hard to test for, so you can still get a child with genetic illnesses despite the test. We did and I can tell you that if we had a choice we probably wouldn’t have gone through with it (as much as I love the child now). It is a bad life-changing scenario and a tough horrible road forever.

abigail 2012/03/21 - 4:51 pm

People need to go read Kelle Hampton’s blog and her new book “Bloom.” Same thing happened to her, but she overcame it and embraced it and Nella is one of the best things that has happend to her family. Here’s her blog: https://www.kellehampton.com/

Alyssa @NearNormalcy 2012/03/22 - 5:32 pm

Regardless of my stance on abortion or prenatal screening or anything else, I guess I just cannot get past the brutality of standing up in public and declaring “I wish my child had never been born. Given a chance, I would have aborted her.”

I don’t have a special needs child. Maybe I’m in no position to judge. But I do know that no matter what, whether I wanted the child or not, once I HAVE a child and make the decision to keep and raise her, it is my job to LOVE that child, period. And I can’t help but wonder what this child is going to feel someday when she’s old enough to understand and she inevitably finds out that her parents made national news suing a doctor for allowing her to be born.

Truthful Mommy 2012/03/22 - 9:30 pm

I was just discussing that very thing with my husband. Heaven forbid this child ever finds out that they were considered a “Wrongful Birth”. I pray this little girl NEVER knows. I do believe that the parents are gladly raising her. They love her. THe issue is that they knew the cost to raise her would be astronomical. THis is why they sued for the additional medical costs that it costs for her lifetime. They are not asking for money for the basic necessities, from my understanding.

The TRUTH About Motherhood – Terry England ~ Women’s Reproductive Rights are Not the Same as Pigs 2012/03/27 - 10:40 am

[…] They don’t know what it’s like to be suddenly faced with an unexpected pregnancy, or forced to consider an abortion due to a medical anomolie. Men have no idea what a transvaginal untrasound feels like to a woman […]

Paul Jackson 2012/03/27 - 7:13 pm

There is no such thing as wrong life unless you’ve want to engage in it. We do have choices of life and its up to you how to decide your life’s destiny. If you think, you’re doing it right then do it. Don’t wait until such time you have regrets in what you do. Take a time to refresh and think twice or more before deciding something.

Venus 2012/03/28 - 12:53 pm

What a tragedy in so so many ways. For our first, I denied all testing. In our current situation we know that any tesitng outcomes would not prompt us to end our pregnancy. As for what would happen if we wanted to have another child but wouldn’t be able to afford the care for that child if they were special needs? In that case, I believe we would make the choice to instead avoid pregnancy, rather than attempt to get pregnant and then make a decision to terminate. I’m not saying this from a judgmental place to the Levy’s, they had to do what they felt was right for them. But for me personally, I feel that the time to make decisions about what is “affordable” is *before* creating that child in the first place. I should also note that I am pro-choice.

Tara 2012/04/10 - 1:56 pm

I was given the option while carrying my daughter almost 5 years ago for inutero testing, I chose not to have it done for a few reasons.

1. I have several special needs children in my family and they are a greater blessing than anyone can immagine.

2. I can’t help but feel that it’s descriminatory. We’re telling people with ALL disabilities that they are worthless and a drain on society. It’s the same as race descrimination and it’s sick.

It leads me to believe that mothers will start aborting for any reason, gender, disease, hair color, possibilty for obesity, ugliness….the list goes on and where does it stop?

Sheila Brown 2012/04/25 - 7:04 am

I don’t think it’s fair to abort a child because they will need special attention. All children are equal.

J Hayes 2012/06/02 - 8:33 pm

These parents are an aberration. They don’t deserve any child. Life cannot be predicted with absolute certainty. Don’t want a special needs child? Don’t have kids!!! People like this, willing to sue for anything, are destroying our society. I hope karma kicks them in the a**.

Lynn 2012/07/24 - 5:17 am

I will never judge anyone for the decision they make. One never knows what lies ahead. I have two special needs children but my youngest is the most challenged. Violent episodes have changed who we are and my whole family has struggled with PTSD due to the ongoing stress. Life will never be the same, we love him, but a day is never easy. We have few family pictures as who wants to record one of his meltdowns. Now that he is bigger than us one day his dad or I will probably end up beaten. I only pray he does not end up in jail. At times it is hard to feel blessed when the past is one of pain and the future can seem bleak as we live dealing with crisis and severe mental health issues along with the disabilities. It is difficult to watch your child struggle to have control in a world that can be so unforgiving. What I wouldn’t do some days to take away this internal torture that he has come to live with. Don’t take you or child’s health for granted as you never know when life can be turned upside down forever.

The TRUTH About Motherhood | Legally & Medically Dead Mom-to-be, Marlise Munoz, Used as Incubator for Severely Abnormal Fetus Against Family's Wishes - The TRUTH About Motherhood 2014/01/23 - 1:12 pm

[…] Mr. Munoz and the hospital are locked in a court battle about whether to retain life support. Marlise, also a trained paramedic, was very specific with her husband that she did not want extreme measures to keep her alive in a case where she was brain dead. There is no quality of life left. The hospital has decided that Mrs. Munoz should be kept “alive” to give the baby a chance at life completely ignoring the wishes of her, her husband and common sense. The baby is essentially being incubated in a brain dead and deteriorating dead body. The result is that the fetus is not gestating normally. […]


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