A Spanish doctor has been ordered to financially assist a 24-year-old patient with raising her son. A judge on the island of Majorca made the decision after the woman sued because her doctor said he had completed her abortion, when, apparently, he hadn't. What happened in this unusual case? Here, a concise guide:
Why is the judge making the doctor pay?
Not only did the gynecologist botch the woman's abortion, but he also failed to detect her still being pregnant in follow-up appointments: In 2010, the young woman went to the doctor's clinic to have an abortion when she was seven weeks pregnant. Two weeks later, she returned for a scan, and the doctor assured her she was no longer pregnant. Several months later, she returned to the clinic suspecting that she was still pregnant, and it turned out that the allegedly aborted fetus had been growing inside her all along.
Why didn't she just have the abortion then?
The clinic refused, as the woman was 22 weeks pregnant at that point and abortion is illegal in Spain after 14 weeks. The clinic offered to reimburse the $500 fee the woman had paid for the procedure, and referred her to a Madrid clinic that might perform a late-term abortion. But it was too late, so the woman had no choice but to have the baby boy, who was born healthy four months later, in October 2010.
What did the woman do after giving birth?
She sued the doctor, and won. The judge ordered the gynecologist and his clinic to pay the mother $189,000 for emotional damages. The doctor also has to pay $1,300 per month in child support until the boy is 26. The doctor and clinic plan to appeal. Meanwhile, the new mom has another trauma to prepare for: How will she explain to her son what happened? "I'm happy with my son," the woman says. "When I have to explain all this to him, I'll try to make sure that he feels okay about it. It was back then that he was not wanted, not now."
Is it fair to make the doctor pay child support?
Antoni Bennassar, president of the local Baleares Medical College, tells the Catholic News Agency that it was wrong to punish the doctor, noting that people are typically punished for crimes and assaults, not for births. If you ask me, says Rebekah Kuschmider at Babble, the doctor got off easy. "He should have been ordered back to medical school for more training, too." People make mistakes, but botching the procedure and the follow-up ultrasound? "That's pretty bad."
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