Atheist writer Richard Dawkins created a firestorm of controversy last week with his comments justifying the abortion of babies with Down syndrome. Now, out of South Africa, comes a story of a woman who is suing because she was unable to abort her baby.
A “wrongful birth” claim rests on the assertion by a parent that a baby should have been aborted, due to some real or perceived deficiency – usually, a disability – and would have been aborted, had it not been for some act of commission or omission by the person who is being sued. A “wrongful life” claim is based on the same concept, but is filed in the name of the child rather than the parent.
In this case in South Africa, a lawsuit has been filed on the child’s behalf. Here’s more:
The mother missed the window period to file a claim on her own behalf.
She wants the Constitutional Court to allow her to sue the centre on behalf of her son.
The mother’s lawyer, Paul Hoffman, explained the scope of the case to Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke,“You have a duty to tell my mother carrying me that I’m malformed so that she can make an informed decision as to whether or not to carry me to term.”
“It is not as if the foetus is sort of putting up its hand and saying why you didn’t destroy me. The foetus is complaining that its malformation, its development is the result of the bad advice that was given.”
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, has comments on these kinds of cases before.
“The concept that a violent pre-natal death by abortion is preferable to life with a disability is incompatible with, and corrosive to, fundamental disability-rights principles. Acceptance of such causes of action is a manifestation of a resurgent drive to promote human eugenics — an ideology that was in vogue in the early 20th century, but became discredited when zealously implemented in some states and nations. Certainly, such lawsuits cannot be reconciled with recognition that each unborn member of the human family has an intrinsic right to life,” he explained.
This case comes on the heels of one from New Zealand, where a couple won their case at a federal appeals court because they would have aborted their little girl had they known she had spina bifida. The parents of a child with the condition could win a monetary settlement following the ruling saying they were “denied” a chance to abort their daughter.
During ultrasounds scans as the pregnancy progressed, doctors missed signs of the birth “defect” and the couple said that, had the spina bifida been detected, they would have killed their daughter in an abortion. Instead, the little girl was born in 2007 and the couple has been in court even since.
The Court of Appeal ruling claims the couple “suffered a personal injury because of the misdiagnosis” and the case now returns to a district court.
“Wrongful birth and wrongful life lawsuits are just plain wrong,” says LifeNews blogger Rebecca Taylor.
She adds: “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.”
“The parents often use the excuse that they love their child; they are simply suing to acquire funds to care for their sick or disabled offspring. But to get those funds they have to insist that, had they known, they would have killed that very same child,” she continues.
LifeNews Note: File photo. In an earlier version of this article, an image of a beautiful boy named Noah was erroneously used and we apologize for the error.