Parents Hit Jackpot Over ‘Wrongful Birth’
This beggars the moral imagination. A couple sued accusing companies that should have alerted them that their unborn child had serious genetic defects of denying them the opportunity to end the child’s life. They won. Excerpt:
On Tuesday, a King County Superior Court jury placed the blame — $50 million worth — equally on Valley Medical Center in Renton and Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp), based in North Carolina.
According to court papers in the wrongful-birth case, Valley ordered a prenatal test that can be counted on to find this type of chromosomal abnormality only when the lab receives additional information — a “road map,” essentially — showing it where to look for the specific problem. Valley failed to send that information to the lab, and never told Rhea Wuth that without the additional directions, the test results might not answer the crucial question.
Although the lab’s own procedures specify it should follow up with a phone call when such information is missing, that call was not made, said the family’s lawyer, Todd Gardner, of Renton.
The lab missed the translocation. Had the couple known of the genetic defect, they would have ended the pregnancy, according to court filings in the case.
This is a horrible case, no doubt about it. I agree that this family should get something for the expenses they have incurred and will incur in caring for their child. But the only way that is justified is if you accept their belief that the child should not be alive. We mustn’t minimize the emotional pain this couple is going through, but still, I cannot imagine going to court and claiming that I was wronged because I wasn’t given the opportunity to exterminate the disabled child I now care for. It’s gruesome.
And it seems to me it sets a dangerous precedent. Could a parent who is displeased with their child over a child’s medical condition — assuming the condition could have been detected with prenatal testing — sue doctors and other medical professionals for failing to provide them with information that would have swayed them to abort their unborn child? Again: gruesome. What parent goes to court to contend that justice requires that their baby, however damaged, should be dead? I don’t get it.