Scotland Woman Loses Lawsuit When Botched Abortion Killed One Twin

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 11, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scotland Woman Loses Lawsuit When Botched Abortion Killed One Twin Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 11
, 2006

Perth, Scotland ( — A British court has rejected a Scotland woman’s lawsuit against a hospital that failed to successfully abort her twin babies. Stacy Dow, who eventually gave birth to a daughter she thought had been aborted, said she will press on in her case against the hospital where the abortion was done.

Dow, 21, sued Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust for about $400,000 but the Perth Sheriff Court rejected the case. She wanted money for the "financial burden" of raising her daughter Jayde.

"I found out on Friday that my claim had been rejected," she told The Scotsman newspaper. "It was a letter written in legal terms and I did not know what to think. It was difficult to understand."

"I’m still determined to continue. I’ll talk to my lawyer and see what he thinks is best," she added.

The judge, Sheriff Fletcher, said that he rejected the case because he didn’t think the medical center had promised Dow that the abortion would be successful.

"In order to be held to have guaranteed success of the operation, the doctor would have had to have expressly said he was doing so," Fletcher said, according to the Scotsman. "He could not be held to have done so impliedly, or because he had used the word termination."

Because NHS trust is a public medical facility it’s different from a private medical center where the doctor/patient relationship would have become a contractual one and Dow may have been entitled to damages as a result.

The woman indicated the legal battle was taking an emotional toll on her.
"All this over the past months has been a stress, and sometimes I don’t know if I can go on," Dow said. "People tell me this is the way big organizations like the health trust operate, to wear you down — and I know that’s what’s happening to me.

Dow also told The Scotsman that she is doing her best to raise her daughter with her parents’ help.

"I’m still living at my mum and dad’s, waiting to start a proper life on my own with Jayde," Dow said. "Jayde started school two weeks ago and is enjoying it. I still want to do the best for her, but it’s exhausting dealing with the legal side."

Representatives of the medial center told the court the hospital did not promise that the abortion would be successful.

Dow gave birth to the girl after the abortion killed her twin sister. She was 16 at the time and it was too late in pregnancy to have another abortion when she realized she was still pregnant.

After the abortion, doctors gave Dow a contraception injection and told her there would be side effects from it. She blamed the injection for a weigh gain and the cessation of her periods, and only later realized she was still pregnant.

"I have got a child now that I wasn’t planning to have and I believe the hospital should take some responsibility for that," Dow told a London newspaper in April when she filed the lawsuit.

"I wouldn’t dream of giving her up for anything now," Dow has said, despite filing the lawsuit.

Tayside officials wanted the court to throw out the damages and said Jayde was a normal, health child when she was born.
According to a BBC report, hospital attorney David Stephenson told the court the abortion practitioner checked to make sure the abortion was completed and found no evidence of Jayde’s existence.

Stephenson said no contract existed between Dow and the abortion practitioner at the time so she can’t sue for breach of contract.

"Nothing said to (Ms Dow) by the doctor could or did mention a warranty that her pregnancy would be terminated," he said, according to the BBC report. "NHS patients do not normally contract with their health trust or health boards for the provision of medical service."

Dow’s attorney told the court she suffered from "distress and anxiety" from what happened and experienced loss of earnings because she was a single mother at a young age.

Dow brought the lawsuit in part because her husband recently passed away.

She discussed with a newspaper last April how she would tell her daughter about the abortion she hoped to have.

"I still don’t know if, or what, I’m going to tell Jayde when the time comes. I just hope she understands what happened and why I did it," Dow said.

In 2001, Kim Nicholls of Staffordshire, who abortion practitioners told had a successful abortion of twin babies, was awarded $25,000 after one of the unborn children survived the abortion.