by Steven Ertelt
July 13, 2006
Vienna, Austria (LifeNews.com) — An Austrian doctor who allegedly didn’t provide a woman enough details about her unborn child’s possible disability, so she could have had an abortion, may be held liable for paying for child support as a result. The case is the latest in the controversial field of wrongful life or wrongful birth lawsuits.
The Austrian Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to consider whether the OBGYN should be required to pay the child support.
Supreme Court official Ronald Rohrer indicated the nation’s high court ruled that, if the lower Salzburg Provincial Court determines the mother would have definitely had an abortion if she had the disability information, that the unnamed doctor must pay support for the girl, who is now nine.
"This is a delicate issue and the final word has not yet been spoken," Rohrer told the Associated Press.
Rohrer said the doctor is begin held responsible because he advised her to under go further medical examinations. By the time those were completed, it was too late to legally have an abortion.
The girl in question was born in 1997 with Down syndrome and since the girl will likely be unable to ever care for herself, the doctor may be required to support her for the rest of her life.
Gerhard Marschuetz, an expert from Vienna University, told the Austrian newspaper Kurier that the doctor likely didn’t want to worry the mother until there was more information to confirm that the disability was present.
"It is very possibly that the doctor didn’t want to unnecessarily concern the young mother," Marschuetz said.
He worries a decision to make the doctor pay will force other physicians to hastily tell mothers and couples about a disability with less than accurate information or to advise for an abortion.
"From now on even when there is the slightest sign of a risk, doctors will call attention to special checkups," Marschuetz said.
Pro-life groups oppose wrongful birth lawsuits because they encourage abortions.
In March, while his state was fighting to ban such suits, Ohio Right to Life legislative director Mary Lally told LifeNews.com, "These lawsuits undermine societal efforts to change negative attitudes toward the value of persons with disabilities, and encourage parents to publicly assert that they wish that their children with disabilities had never been born."
By banning such lawsuits, lawmakers would reject "the view that death or nonexistence is preferable to life with a disability," Lally said.