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?