Opinion Brief

Time to outlaw 'wrongful birth' lawsuits?

Oregon parents say they would have aborted had a lab test correctly revealed that their daughter would be born with Down syndrome — and win a $2.9 million lawsuit

A jury last week awarded an Oregon couple $2.9 million for the "wrongful birth" of their 4-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome. The parents, Ariel and Deborah Levy, say that they would have aborted the pregnancy had they known the child would be born with the chromosomal abnormality, but that a Legacy Health lab botched a prenatal test. The couple says they now face a lifetime of expenses they can't afford, from speech therapy to medical care, so the company should pay. The case — one of a handful of "wrongful birth" suits filed each year — has sparked heated debate over the ethics of aborting fetuses with birth defects. Are "wrongful birth" lawsuits something courts should even allow?

No, there is no such thing as a "wrongful birth": These lawsuits should be outlawed, says Wesley J. Smith at The Daily Caller. They're just "the newest front in the ongoing eugenic search-and-destroy mission aimed at wiping people with Down syndrome off the face of the earth." Ninety percent of babies testing positive for Down syndrome and other conditions are now aborted, and that's disgraceful. "We may have a right to have a baby, but we don't — or at least shouldn’t — have a right to the baby we want.""Wrongful birth lawsuits are wrongful"

They're a necessary evil for now: "Wrongful birth lawsuits are a horrible way to deal with failed prenatal testing," says Art Caplan at MSNBC. "Forcing parents to argue that their child never should have been born" to get compensation is "morally absurd." Our politicians should create a legal framework for mediation to settle matters fairly without a "courtroom slugfest that demeans the value of a life with disability." Failing that, these sad cases will only grow more common."Bioethicist: Parents shouldn't have to sue over 'wrongful birth' of child with Down syndrome"

Want these cases to go away? Fix the health-care system: "I don't begrudge the couple receiving the money to help care for their daughter," says Danielle Sullivan at Babble. But it doesn't seem fair that parents who make the very "personal" — and, I think, admirable — decision to go through with these pregnancies get no such help. These cases only prove that we need "a healthcare system in which every child (including special needs children) is entitled to every therapy and service he/she needs.""Couple receives $2.9 million for wrongful birth; say they would have aborted baby had they known"

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