British taxpayers are being forced to pay £70 million in “wrongful birth” compensation to families who said they would have aborted their children had they known about their child’s disability before birth.
The Sunday Times reports the National Health Service paid the amount (about $87 million) to more than 16 families in the past five years after a High Court judge ruled that doctors had been negligent in their cases. The Times reports it received legal documents related to the cases two weeks ago.
Most of the cases involved problems with antenatal screening and doctors’ failure to detect abnormalities or inform parents about the risks of their baby having a disability, The Christian Institute reports.
Parents in all of the cases said they would have had abortions if they had known about their child’s disabilities before birth. The claims included children with Down syndrome, microcephaly and a wide range of other conditions, according to the reports.
The Christian Institute reports more about one case:
The mother had undergone ten ultrasounds during the course of her pregnancy, but two doctors were found to have failed to carry out their duties correctly in two of them.
The couple’s daughter is now eight years old and has microcephaly, which affects the size of her head.
Her mother would have aborted her if she was aware of the condition, but says she loves her deeply now.
Several pro-life and Christian groups in England reacted to the news with disappointment and concern.
In a statement, the ProLife Alliance, a British pro-life organization, said even the idea of a “wrongful birth” is discriminatory and insulting, especially toward people with disabilities.
“Who in a civilized society would dare say to a person with a disability, ‘You should not have been born’?” the group wrote online. “‘Wrongful birth’ is a horrifying term which gravely offends against genuine commitment to concepts of inclusiveness and anti-discrimination.”
The ProLife Alliance continued:
It would be interesting for the media to explore some of the positive responses which have resulted from prenatal screening, however, including incredible surgery which has been performed either in utero, or with the developing baby temporarily outside the womb. These examples show medicine in a more positive light.
It is certainly not screening per se that is the problem. It is what is done after the screening. In this instance the focus does not seem to be on curing but simply a search and abort approach.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, of Christian Concern said these cases are a sad statement about modern society.
“To say the birth of a child is a ‘harm’ to an individual or family and to use taxpayers’ money to compensate for the harm is unkind; it is not a mark of a civilized society,” Williams said. “It is wrongful that taxpayers are funding a culture which sees disabled children as an inconvenience.”