Court Rules Parents Can File Wrongful Birth Lawsuit Saying They Wish Their Child Was Never Born

State   Micaiah Bilger   Jun 6, 2017   |   10:26AM    Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa parents who say they would have aborted their unborn son if they had known he had cerebral palsy may sue their doctors, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.

Radio Iowa reports Pamela Plowman and her ex-husband Jeremy Plowman filed wrongful birth lawsuits after they said their doctors did not inform them of the abnormalities that showed up on an ultrasound of their unborn son.

Pamela Plowman said their son was born in Fort Madison with cerebral palsy and other medical issues; and if she had known about them before his birth, she would have aborted him, according to the report.

She and Jeremy Plowman, who divorced after their son’s birth, filed separate lawsuits against the doctors, seeking money for the costs of raising their son, mental anguish and loss of income, according to the report.

In a decision filed Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision and ruled that the Plowmans are allowed to sue for their son’s so-called “wrongful birth.” The court argued that their cases fit “within general tort principles for medical negligence.”

Pamela Plowman said her doctors had told her that “everything was fine” with her unborn son, and she was never informed that “the radiologist had found any abnormalities or that the ultrasound was in any way abnormal,” according to the court ruling.

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Several months after the boy was born, the Plowmans said they began noticing that he was not developing normally. He later was diagnosed with several disabilities, including cerebral palsy; and he probably never will walk or talk. Their son is now 5 years old, according to court documents.

Here’s more from the report:

Justice Edward Mansfield was the only vote against the ruling. He wrote a dissenting opinion which says the decision is limited to a “severely disabled child” — but says the court does not define the term, and asks “what happens if testing indicates the child will be born blind or without a hand?” Mansfield says the court’s decision also opens up the possibility for other claims.

Manfield also says an “honest appraisal of the legislature’s Iowa Code section 146A.1 would find that it is intended to discourage, not encourage, abortions. The statute sets forth prerequisites for abortion only, not for carrying a pregnancy to term. It requires some creativity to read section 146A.1 as support for the new cause of action the court establishes today.”

Parents have won millions of dollars in “wrongful birth” lawsuits involving children born with special needs. In the cases, parents argue that they would have aborted their child if their doctor had not been negligent in diagnosing the child’s health problems or counseling them on their options before the child’s birth.

In 2013, a Washington state couple won $50 million in a lawsuit after they argued they were denied information that could have led them to abort their disabled baby, LifeNews reported. The Seattle Times reported the couple knew based on their family medical history they were at a 50-50 chance of having children suffering from a rare but debilitating genetic disorder called “unbalanced chromosome translocation,” but a genetic test failed to detect the disorder in their unborn baby.

In 2014, an Illinois mother also sued her doctor, claiming that he botched her tubal ligation and it led to the birth of her daughter who has sickle cell disease.

Wrongful birth and wrongful life lawsuits are just plain wrong,” pro-life blogger Rebecca Taylor previously wrote at LifeNews.

“The wrongful birth suit is brought by the parents of a sick or disabled child against a physician that, the parents say, was negligent. The wrongful birth lawsuit does not say that the doctor caused the disease or disability, which would be a valid reason to sue. Instead the wrongful birth lawsuit claims the that doctor failed to inform the parents of the illness or disability of the child and that had they known, they would have aborted their child.

“In other words, the parents are saying we wish our child was dead. Because he or she is not, the doctor has to pay,” Taylor wrote.