The British National Health Service is facing a lawsuit this week from a couple who claims doctors were negligent in detecting a brain disorder in their unborn daughter.
According to the Daily Mail, if the couple had known about their daughter’s condition before birth, they said they “would have had an abortion.”
Amanda and Paul McGuinn, a south east London family, said their daughter Matilda was born in 2008 with “profound microcephaly,” a condition where the baby’s head is smaller than normal and the brain is often abnormally developed. The severity of the condition varies, but most people with microcephaly have major disabilities and require regular care.
The couple claims that their doctors with Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust were negligent for not recognizing abnormalities in their unborn daughter.
Angus McCullough, who represents the couple, said doctors should have noticed their daughter’ unusually small size during their 30- and 35-week pregnancy scans.
“With proper antenatal care significant abnormalities apparent during ultrasound scanning would have been acted upon,” McCullough said.
The McGuinns said they love their daughter; but her condition is debilitating and they would have aborted her if they had known about it before she was born. The couple is suing for compensation to cover costs of Matilda’s care.
The NHS denied the accusations that doctors were negligent in their care for the family, according to The Sun.
Often referred to as “wrongful birth” lawsuits, these types of cases have been popping up recently in countries where abortion is legal. In February, a Montana mother lost a similar lawsuit after claiming that her doctors failed to give her information about prenatal screening tests for cystic fibrosis. Kerrie Evans’ daughter was born with the condition, and Evans said she would have had an abortion if prenatal tests had detected the condition in her child.
Some parents have been successful, though. 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 that 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.
“Wrongful birth and wrongful life lawsuits are just plain wrong,” pro-life blogger Rebecca Taylor wrote in 2012.
“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.