Florida Pro-Life Advocates Condemn "Wrongful Birth" Lawsuit Award

State   Steven Ertelt   Jul 31, 2007   |   9:00AM    WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Pro-Life Advocates Condemn "Wrongful Birth" Lawsuit Award Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 31,
2007

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Florida pro-life advocates are condemning a recent Florida court case which saw a couple receive $23.5 million for the so-called "wrongful birth" of their child. Daniel and Amara Estrada received the award after a court found their physician should have warned them their baby could have physical disabilities.

The Estradas had given birth to their first child, Aiden, who was born with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome.

Children afflicted with the condition have small heads, webbed toes, are unable to communicate and require feeding tubes to receive food and water.

A Tampa jury awarded the couple money to raise their second child, Caleb, who was also born with the disability. The couple sued Dr. Boris Kousseff of the University of South Florida, who gave them the go-ahead for a second pregnancy and did not warn them of the 25 percent possibility their second child could have the syndrome as well.

Kousseff, the couple contended, could have caught the disease with a simple test and given the Estradas the option of having an abortion.

The couple said in their lawsuit they would have definitely killed their child an in abortion had the test come back positive.

However, Sheila Hopkins, the director of the Respect Life office at the Florida Catholic Conference, told the Catholic News Service the decision to award the money for the so-called "wrongful birth" was wrong.

Hopkins says the result of the lawsuit will encourage more doctors to promote abortion as a solution for parents of unborn children who are potentially physically or mentally handicapped.

"To call it a wrongful birth seems very odd," she told CNS. "Anyone can have children who have challenges. … Who are we to decide what’s a ‘wrong’ birth and what’s a ‘right’ birth?"

"You don’t put a price tag on the value of human life," she said, noting that many parents of disabled children find "a joyful presence in the family."

Because Dr. Kousseff works for a state-funded university health facility, the Estradas will have to petition the state legislature to get virtually all of the money the court awarded.

Hopkins said the Florida Catholic Conference would probably not lobby lawmakers to reject the award, but added she didn’t think it likely that the legislature would pay the couple.