A Montana woman who sued her doctor for almost $15 million after her daughter was born with cystic fibrosis lost her case in court this week.
The latest in a series of “wrongful birth” lawsuits, Kerrie Evans argued that she would have aborted her daughter if she had known that the girl had cystic fibrosis before she was born. She claimed that her doctor and nurse, Dr. William Peters and Peggy Scanson, did not offer her information about prenatal screenings for the condition.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported that a 12-person jury deliberated about two hours before ruling against Evans, saying that Peters and Scanson did not violate their standard of care. The trial lasted nine days, according to the report.
Evans filed the lawsuit in 2011, asking for $14.5 million in damages for the cost of raising her daughter, medical expenses and emotional distress, LifeNews previously reported. Evans’ daughter is now 5 years old.
Evans said she was excited when she found out that she was pregnant for the first time in 2009; but because she was in her late 30s, she and her husband, Joe, wanted to test their baby for any abnormalities, according to the local news report.
Evans said Peters and Scanson failed to give her the test that she requested. However, during the trial, attorneys for the defendants said Evans did not read the information that her doctor provided and did not show interest in being tested for cystic fibrosis.
“(Evans) can’t say, ‘I’m so glad (the girl) was born,’ and in the same breath say, ‘I need money because I would have terminated,’” said Lisa Speare, attorney for Dr. Peters.
Scanson’s attorney John Scully and Speare both pointed out that advances in medical technology are providing better treatment and leading to longer lifespans for people with cystic fibrosis.
“We all know how fast treatments and cures happen in our world,” Scully said. “(The girl) has a life very, very much worth living.”
During the trial, Evans’ attorneys changed the amount of money they were seeking to $2.2 million in damages to cover medical expenses until Evans’ daughter turns 18, plus at least $250,000 for Evans’ emotional distress, according to the report.
According to the report, Evans told the jury that her daughter’s treatment is covered by her health insurance – an argument the attorneys later used against her case.
After the jury’s verdict, Evans’ attorney Casey Magan called her “courageous.”
“She has born the brunt, walking through the fire of public opinion,” Magan said. “…They love their child more than anything. Who would do what she’d done but for the love of her child?”
Though these lawsuits, often referred to as “wrongful birth” cases, seem like something out of a dystopian novel, they have become more common in the past few years.
In 2013, a Washington state couple won $50 million in a lawsuit where they claimed they were denied information that could have led them to abort their disabled baby, LifeNews reported. The Seattle Times said 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,” wrote LifeNews blogger Rebecca Taylor.
“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 continued.