Increasing number of disabled Israeli children sue for not being abortedby Christine Dhanagom
Thursday, Nov 10, 2011
JERUSALEM, November 10, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - “Wrongful life” lawsuits, in which doctors are held liable for not discovering fetal abnormalities that might have prompted parents to abort their child, have become so common in Israel that the government has set up a committee to investigate the issue, New Scientist reports.
According to magazine, wrongful life claims are more prevalent in Israel where a higher rate of genetic disorders caused by consanguineous (connected by kinship) marriages has fueled a “pro-genetic testing culture.” The county has seen an estimated 600 wrongful cases since the first in 1987.
While similar lawsuits in the United States and Canada are often brought by the parents of disabled children, it is common in Israel for the children themselves to demand compensation for the fact that they were not killed in-utero.
Asaf Posner, a medical malpractice lawyer who sits on the government’s Matza committee which is charged with investigating the issue, has obtained judgments averaging around 4.5 million shekels (about $1 million U.S. Dollars) for clients with spina bifida and cystic fibrosis.Posner defends the lawsuits, arguing that the medical profession would “become corrupt” without criticism.
Rabbi Avraham Steinberg, a medical ethicist at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, disagrees. Steinberg has criticized the lawsuits as psychologically damaging.
“I find it very difficult to understand how parents can go on the witness stand and tell their children ‘it would have been better for you not to have been born,” said Steinberg, who also sits on the Matza committee.
Steinberg claims that some malpractice lawyers are travelling to small communities around the country where inbreeding is more common in search of potential clients.
He also noted that the prevalence of such lawsuits has caused doctors to overstate the likelihood that an unborn child may have a disability, possibly driving an increase in the number of abortions.
“More testing means more false positives – and that means more abortions, because geneticists don’t always know if results indicating the possibility of chromosomal abnormalities are meaningful. I’d like to see a study of aborted fetuses to see how many are diseased,” he said.
Aborting my daughter with Down syndrome ruined my life, destroyed my marriage
by John Jalsevac
Mon Nov 07, 2011
November 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Even though Marie Ideson already had six children when she found out that she was expecting her seventh at the age of 40, she and her husband enthusiastically welcomed the news.
“Both Allan and I wanted a big family, so we were thrilled when we discovered I was expecting again,” Marie told the Daily Mail in a recent article.
[Left: Marie with her husband Allan and daughter Laura.]
Even after she got back the results of a blood test, and then amniocentesis, showing that her child had Down syndrome, Marie says abortion never even entered her mind as an option, even though she was scared.
“My first thought was: ‘How will we cope?’ It wasn’t: ‘I can’t have this baby.’”
However, that was all to change when the couple went in for a consultation at the hospital, the day after finding out about their daughter’s condition. To their shock, not only did the nurse and consultant present abortion as the only option for the couple, but they even suggested that it would be cruel not to have an abortion.
“A nurse said not aborting my baby would cause it to suffer, and she’d only become a burden on society if I went ahead,” says Marie. “She even said: ‘Ninety-nine per cent of women in your situation wouldn’t want the baby.’”
So heavy was the pressure put on the couple, that ultimately they decided to go ahead with the abortion.
Marie was given a pill to start the abortion that same day.
“I felt numb as I swallowed the tablet. This wasn’t how I imagined this pregnancy ending, but looking back, I was in shock, just operating on autopilot,” she says.
Three days later Marie gave birth to her dead daughter, and, she says, her life has never been the same since.
“She was so small, but otherwise perfect. I broke down in uncontrollable deep sobs. What had I done? I realised in that instant that I’d been railroaded and bullied into taking that first pill. I felt overwhelmed by anger.”
So intense was Marie’s guilt after the abortion that she says she “couldn’t stop crying.” The abortion also became and issue between her and her husband. “I knew he was devastated, too, and wanted to keep the baby, but I felt angry he’d allowed staff to rush me into getting rid of her,” Marie says.
“Before the abortion we’d been a really happy couple, but now, we could barely communicate.”
Ultimately the couple’s marriage ended, despite their having another child.
Marie now says that she is certain that other women must find themselves in the same position as her – wanting to keep their child with Down syndrome, but pressured into abortion by a hostile medical establishment.
‘Today I never see mums with Down’s syndrome babies,” she says. “I can’t help feeling other women must be having abortions they don’t want. I can’t believe that everyone who finds out their baby has Down’s syndrome willingly chooses to abort it.’*******
Couple who would have aborted disabled son awarded $4.5 million for ‘wrongful birth’by Jeremy Kryn
Monday, Sept. 19, 2011
WEST PALM BEACH, FL, September 19, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A jury has awarded the West Palm Beach parents of a child born with no arms and one leg $4.5 million. The couple claimed that had they known of their unborn son’s disabilities before he was born, they would have aborted him.
Ana Mejia testified that she would have had her son killed in her womb through an abortion if she had been told that he was disabled. - Palm Beach Post
*******The jury of four men and two women found Palm Beach Gardens obstetrician Dr. Marie Morel and an ultrasound technician 85% and 15% negligent, respectively, for failing to properly read sonograms. The amount they awarded is half the $9 million Ana Mejia and Rodolfo Santana were seeking.
“I have no words,” an overjoyed Mejia said in her native Spanish. She and her husband said that the award would make a huge difference in their son Bryan’s life.
The couple claimed that their son’s needs would cost $9 million and that the money would cover the cost of prostheses, wheelchairs, operations, and attendants during an estimated 70-year life.
Attorney Mark Rosen, who represents Morel and the responsible clinics, OB/GYN Specialists of the Palm Beaches, and Perinatal Specialists of the Palm Beaches, said they would appeal.
“There is nothing Dr. Morel wants more than for Bryan Santana to have a happy, healthy life,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they’re responsible. Is it fair to blame physicians for acts of nature?”
Rosen argued that the couple rejected amniocentesis, which might have revealed the abnormalities. The couple rejected it because they were told that there was a 1 in 500 chance that removing amniotic fluid for testing would cause a miscarriage.
“’Wrongful birth’ lawsuits should not be permitted because they deny the equal value of every born human life and as such, undermine universal human equality,” Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Wesley Smith told LifeSiteNews.
Smith said that such lawsuits “ undermine the important principle that we should love all children unconditionally regardless of their health and capacities, and would promote eugenic abortion if doctors feared failing to make a proper prenatal diagnosis could lead to financial consequences.”
“In addition,” said Smith, “I am sure that disability rights activists are appalled any jury believes ‘better dead than disabled.’”
“That kind of attitude must be rejected out of hand.”
Better dead than disabled? The insanity of that $4.5 million ‘wrongful birth’ case
by Jonathon Van Maren
Mon Sep 19, 2011
September 19, 2011 (UnmaskingChoice.ca) - In May of 2010, the staff and interns of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform were delighted and privileged to have a very special guest: a man named Nick Vujicic. Aside from being a world renowned motivational speaker, possessing a double Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Financial Planning, who meets with leaders from around the world on behalf of his non-profit organization Life Without Limbs, Nick Vujicic has no arms and no legs.
Nick was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1982. His parents had no idea he was going to be born without limbs, and the shock at birth was intense. In his new autobiography, Life without Limits, Nick reveals how he struggled with bullying, thoughts of suicide, and the unique situation of facing life without arms or legs. He describes movingly how he rose above his circumstances, and how he accomplished more without limbs than he could have with them, inspiring millions of people to value human life in all forms.
It was Nick Vujicic who sprang to my mind when I read a headline on LifeSiteNews this morning: “Couple who would have aborted disabled son awarded $4.5 million for ‘wrongful birth.’” This story, following so soon on the heels of the news that an Alberta judge was willing to use abortion to justify infanticide, once again illustrates starkly the fact that our collective society’s casual downgrading of human life by abortion is opening a fearful Pandora’s Box of death, misery, and eugenics.
This West Palm Beach couple — which the article, I assume ironically, referred to as “parents” — had a baby boy who was tragically born missing both arms and a leg. “The couple claimed,” LifeSiteNews reported, “that had they known of their unborn son’s disabilities before he was born, they would have aborted him.” In the words of Wesley Smith of the Discovery Institute, “Better dead than disabled.”
The fact that a sitting judge would recognize the preposterous notion of “wrongful birth” — stop for a minute and consider the implications of that statement — makes it crystal clear that some people, based on their ability, should not have been permitted to be born. If you are missing a limb, or have a mental disability, or are somehow not as perfectly formed as society-at-large thinks you should be, you have essentially been “wrongfully born.” Your right to life is contingent upon how useful you are to society. Hitler’s T-4 Euthanasia program, apparently, was denounced because it was simply too cutting edge for the 1940s.
I think most people, including abortion advocates, would fiercely denounce what is known as ableism: “a form of discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities.” We as a society recognize that attaching one’s right to life to their ability or societal function is nothing more than utilitarian eugenics, reminiscent of the desire for a “Master Race.” Would anyone say that shooting a child with Down syndrome is not as evil as shooting a child without a disability? I should hope not — although Physicians for Life estimates that between 84 percent and 91 percent of couples who discover that their unborn child has Down syndrome opt to butcher the child in the womb. In some European countries, this figure reaches a staggering 94 or 95 percent. Our culture still believes in eugenics. We just try to be less blatant about it than regimes of the past.
Abortion advocates accuse us of a slippery slope fallacy when we state that abortion, which fundamentally reduces the value of human life and makes it contingent upon characteristics other than humanity, leads to eugenics, gendercide, and the culling of the weak. When we have 100 million missing baby girls in China, I think we are stating facts. When we point out that the womb has become the new killing fields for disabled children, I think the statistics are undeniable. And when a judge awards two people $4.5 million dollars for “wrongful birth” because they couldn’t butcher their child in time, I think society has, in a very fundamental sense, stopped denying our claims altogether.
When Nick Vujicic came to meet with the staff of CCBR, we also had another special guest: a little girl named Brooke, who was born without arms. She was thrilled to see Nick, who was so clearly just like her. Brooke’s parents refused to destroy their child just because she did not have arms, and Nick was eager to prove to her, like to so many others, that her life was valuable regardless of what she could do or not do. I only hope that the little boy from West Palm Beach gets the chance to meet Nick one day and realize that he was not “wrongfully born.” He was fearfully and wonderfully made.*******
Belgium court allows parents to sue for ‘wrongful birth’ when disabled child bornby Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Mon Dec 06, 2010
BRUSSELS, December 6, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Brussels Court of Appeal has ruled that parents may sue physicians who fail to diagnose “serious disabilities” of pre-born children, assuming that had the parents known they would have had the disabled child killed through an abortion.
The September 21st ruling said, “certainly, the misdiagnosis did not cause the child’s disability, which existed before the error and which could not be remedied.” But, the court said, “the injury [that] must be compensated is not the disability itself, but the fact of being born with such disabilities.”
The court commented that abortion is in the best interest of the child whose parents would have it killed, noting that since abortion was legalized, “the legislature must have intended to help avoid giving birth to children with serious abnormalities, having regard not only to the interests of the mother but also to that of the unborn child itself.”
In recent years, pre-natal testing and legal abortion have combined around the world to create the new legal action of “wrongful birth” lawsuits. In such cases, parents will sue a doctor or hospital for failing to warn them that a child will be disabled, or for failing to recommend abortion. Damages are sought for medial bills for the child’s maintenance and for psychological counseling for parents.
In “wrongful life” suits, typically the child or his representative sues the doctor for lifelong support.
The growth of such litigation has followed the growth of the abortion industry and the increasing comfort level of courts and legislatures with legal abortion, as well as the increasing popularity of the arguments of the euthanasia lobby, who argue that death is preferable to life with a disability.
In 1982, an English court rejected a wrongful life case, on the grounds that recognizing the claim would “mean regarding the life of a handicapped child as not only less valuable than the life of a normal child, but so much less valuable that it was not worth preserving.”
However, despite still being considered legally questionable by many experts, the practice of litigating for wrongful life and wrongful birth is gaining ground around the world, including in Canada, the U.S., France, Poland, Britain and Australia. In Belgium, the legal situation is even more advanced, with outright euthanasia having been legalized in 2002.
Some jurisdictions, however, are rejecting the notion that disabled children would be better off dead and have a “right” to be killed before birth. In Italy, in 2006, the Court of Cassation ruled that there is “no such thing as a right not to be born.” The ruling said that “so-called ‘eugenic’ abortion is not admissible, unless fetal deformations endanger the mother’s health.”
In 2002, the French government rejected the ruling of its own Supreme Court, passing a law that said that failure to detect a disability in the womb can lead to damages, but only if it is the result of a “blatant error” on the part of a doctor. Damages in these cases can only be awarded to the child.
In April this year, the U.S. state of Oklahoma passed two pro-life bills, one of which prohibited wrongful life and wrongful birth lawsuits.
American bioethics expert and lawyer Wesley Smith wrote this week on the Belgian Appeals Court decision: “This is ‘life unworthy of life’ thinking, ‘useless eater’ invidious discrimination against people with disabilities of the most pronounced kind.
“It breeds a deadly contempt for our brothers and sisters with disabilities. And the scary part: The Belgians see themselves as the epitome of modern tolerance because they couch their bigotry in oozing words of compa-aaaaa-ssssssion! Vile and disgusting.”
Looney England: UK Parents Sue Hospital For 'Wrongful Birth' of Disabled Son Born 14 Years Ago
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski, LifeSiteNews.com
Mon May 04, 2009
LONDON, UK, May 4, 2009 (LIfeSiteNews.com) - A couple who are claiming they were deprived of their chance to abort their disabled son are suing the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Trust for £1million in damages and compensation for the cost of caring for him.
The couple told the High Court in London that staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital should have detected anomalies in their son’s brain structure during an ultrasound scan carried out at 20 weeks gestation, claiming the scan was conducted in a "fairly light-hearted and casual manner" and lacked "proper focus and intensity."
The court heard that the couple had difficultly conceiving naturally but that the woman had finally become pregnant after fertility treatment.
The son, now 14 years old and known only as X due to a court order preventing the parents and child being identified, was born with a rare brain disorder which resulted in mental and physical disabilities.
The couple’s lawyer, Robert Glancy QC, told the court that, despite the fact that the parents say they love and cherish their son, "The claimants contend, which is not disputed by the defendant, that if this major brain malformation had been detected and then diagnosed . . . then the pregnancy would have been terminated at that stage."
Glancy added: "There is no doubt nothing wrong with having a relaxed atmosphere, or sending the parents away with smiles and reassurance - as the mother says they were - as long as the scan is carried out with proper focus and intensity, which this one was not, according to her."
"The birth of X - however loved and admired he is - would not have occurred but for the negligence of the sonographer," Glancy stated.
Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Trust denies negligence and liability, insisting that there was no evidence of brain defects when the scan was carried out.
When asked why they waited so long to sue the hospital over the alleged negligence of the ultrasound technician and the "wrongful birth" of their son, the mother said that an article she read, ten years after his birth, on problems associated with prenatal scans prompted the lawsuit.
"I told my husband that someone should have seen this, and they should have picked this up," she said.
It is not known if the son is aware or able to comprehend that his parents would have killed him had they known of his handicaps at the time of the ultrasound.
The court hearing is expected to continue through this week.*******
Couple Receives over $21 Million Dollars for “Wrongful Birth” of Handicapped SonBy Elizabeth O’Brien, LifeSiteNews.com
Tue Jul 24, 2007
Tampa, Florida, July 24, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A judge has awarded over $21 million dollars to a couple for the "wrongful birth" of their second handicapped son. The couple would have aborted the child if they had known about his disability, the Tampa Bay Tribune reports.
Daniel and Amara Estrada have two sons who are both physically handicapped with the same genetic disorder, Smith-Lemli-Opitz, which does not allow them to properly synthesize cholesterol. The children have difficulty walking and must be fed through a feeding tube. They also have smaller heads and other physical abnormalities.
After the first son was born, the couple’s doctor, Boris Kousseff, from the University of South Florida (USF), told them that they would be able to have other normal children and did not diagnose the problem as hereditary. Consequently, when their second son Caleb was born with the same disorder, the couple sued the doctor and the USF.
"He says you have the same chance of anyone else in society of having a normal child. He doesn’t tell the truth," said the family’s attorney Christian Searcy, Tampa Bay My Fox reports. The judge ruled that the couple will receive over $21 million dollars in recompense for the negligence of the doctor.
The couple claimed that if they had had a proper diagnosis after the birth of their first child in 2002, they could have determined by a pregnancy test that the second son Caleb had the same disorder. According to the lawsuit, if the couple had known this, they would have aborted him, the Associated Press reports.
Commenting on the situation, president and spokesperson for Florida Right to Life Lynda Bell told LifeSiteNews.com, "How bizarre that in our nation, not only have we become a throw-away generation, including our babies that are not perfect, but that now we’re holding doctors responsible to deliver a perfect baby. I think this is absurd, and I think this court is opening up a Pandora’s box to all types of litigations that say, ‘it’s not just a matter of nature, now I can hold a doctor accountable for an imperfect child.’"
Bell stated, "Doctor’s may feel that they have a responsibility to lead people to abortion just so there’s not a lawsuit." She continued, "I’m not going to weigh in on whether or not the doctor was negligent without knowing all the facts of the case, but I think there’s a very fine line between a negligent physician and having him being responsible for an unborn child, whether or not it is perfect." She also said that the doctor might have been sued legitimately for negligence, but not for "wrongful birth". "Doctors are not God," she said, "they’re physicians."
This story is similar to the case of an Austrian doctor in 2006 who was threatened in court with paying lifetime support costs for a young girl who was born with Down’s syndrome. The mother claimed that she would have aborted her daughter if she had known about the child’s condition early enough (see http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jul/06071402.html).
Similarly, in 2003 a British Columbia, Canada court ruled that Dr. Ken Kan of Richmond must pay $325,000 for "wrongful birth", after he failed to diagnose that a child had Down’s syndrome. The mother claimed that their handicapped child’s birth "totally disrupted our plans," and caused the couple’s marriage to fall apart (see http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2003/jan/03013005.html).
Woman Sues For Wrongful Birth of Surviving Twin After Failed Abortion
By Gudrun Schultz, LifeSiteNews.com
Tue Mar 21, 2006
PERTH, United Kingdom, March 21, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A young woman who gave birth to a daughter, after a failed abortion left one of her twins still alive, is suing for damages against the hospital that carried out the procedure.
Stacy Dow, 21 years old, discovered she was pregnant with twins when she was 16, reported the BBC yesterday. She decided to abort her babies. Following the abortion she was given a contraceptive injection and told to expect weight gain and irregular menstruation as side effects.
When she went to her doctor months later, she found one child had survived the abortion. Ms. Dow was only seven weeks away from giving birth. At that late stage of pregnancy she could not have another abortion. Late-term abortions are illegal in the UK unless the mother’s life is in danger.
Ms. Dow is suing the Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust for £250,000. She wants to cover the “financial burden” of raising her five-year-old daughter, Jayde.
She also wants compensation for being forced into the difficulties of being a single mother, for the emotional and psychological distress she suffered after discovering she was still pregnant, and for the “pain and discomfort” of having her daughter by Caesarean section.
The hospital wants the claim thrown out. Hospital officials say Ms. Dow’s daughter is “normal and healthy”, and £250,000 is an excessive claim. They also say no contract between the hospital and Ms. Dow was entered into, and she was never guaranteed a successful abortion.*******
‘Wrongful birth’ suits indicate eugenic attitudes toward disabled
Author: Paul Tuns
Published: Saturday, October 20, 2001
This past summer, the French high court ruled in favour of a family of a severely disabled French teen in a lawsuit against medical authorities that in effect says the child ought never have been born. The decision in this “wrongful birth” lawsuit implicitly accepts that Nicholas Perruche, who has heart problems and is deaf, dumb, partly blind, and mentally disabled, should have never been allowed to live, that he would be better off dead than alive with disabilities.
In October, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear a similar case. The Court will decide how much money the Krangle family of British Columbia will receive from their doctor because he did not make them aware of the availability of amniocentesis tests for women over 35 years of age who are more at risk of giving birth to children with Down syndrome or other genetic defects.
The Krangles say if they knew beforehand that their son Mervyn was going to be born with Down syndrome, they would have aborted him.
The SPOC is to rule whether the doctor’s insurance company should pay for Mervyn’s care up to the age of 19 or the lifetime care he will need. Mervyn, now 10 years old, according to press reports, “can’t brush his teeth, comb his hair or dress himself without help. He suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, frequently loses his balance,” and that he “will have to live under constant supervision for the rest of his life.”
In the French case, Mrs. Perruche was one month pregnant when she was exposed to German measles in 1982 but an erroneous laboratory report said she was immunized against the disease. If she had known otherwise, she says she too would have aborted her son rather than take the health risks such exposure can cause.
In its decision the French court said that the doctors’ and laboratory’s mistakes “prevented Perruche from exercising her choice to end her pregnancy to avoid the birth of a handicapped child.” Technically, the case is about compensating the family for their financial burden and emotional hardships they have experienced in raising the boy and the continued support Nicholas Perruche will need. So, too, would the Canadian case. But the French decision and Canadian case both send the signal that children born with disabilities are owed compensation for being born.
A French public prosecutor, Jerry Sainte-Rose, warned that the decision could lead to mass abortions as a result of medical professionals’ fears about their culpability if they preside over the birth of a disabled child. The new medical credo could become: when in doubt, abort.
But aside from the legal and medical issues the case raises is the awful assumption that some people should not live. The decision for a mother to abort because of the possibility of birth defects is one thing (and is rightfully opposed by pro-lifers and many disabled activists), but the attitude behind both cases is that the severely disabled such as Nicholas Perruche and Mervyn Krangle should be aborted.
In these particular cases, families sued a doctor for not providing information that may have led the mother to have an abortion.
How long, however, until a disabled child demands compensation from not just a doctor but his or her parents for not being aborted because he or she was made to endure a condition the parents could very well have prevented? Why stop with a physical or mental disability? Perhaps children of poor parents would seek compensation for their wretched existence also.
Prenatal genetic screening has already led to countless thousands of abortions as a new-found parental right to a healthy child is asserted. Gregor Wolbring, a professor of biochemistry at the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary and a co-founder of the World Federation of Thalidomiders, says genetic screening is used as part of a eugenics project to “eliminate the imperfections of the human race.”
That sounds harsh, but as Gilbert Meilander noted in Bioethics: A Primer for Christians, that because “we can diagnose far more fetal defects than we can cure,” the primary use of advances in genetic knowledge is not treatment of the disorder but “elimination of the one who is afflicted with the disorder.”
Writing 20 years ago in Human Life Review, Malcolm Muggeridge said genetic screening would lead to “the Humane Holocaust.” Muggeridge said, “With the developing of modern medicine, the human race could be pruned and carefully tended until only the perfect blooms – the beauty queens, the mensa IQs, the athletes – remained.” In this dystopian vision of the future – and the future is now – the eradication of “sick and misshapen bodies … or mongoloid children” is a humane development, not an exercise in eugenics. We will kill off the disabled for their own good.
Wolbring says society’s view of the disabled is misinformed. The larger population sees disabled people as “defective” and living a poor quality of life and consequently, the pity they feel for them leads to the barbaric conclusion they would be better off dead.
If that interpretation of society’s view of people with disabilities is accurate (and I think it is), how long until there is a societal expectation that children likely to be born with disabilities ought to be aborted to spare them of their suffering (or society the financial burden of supporting them)?
Despite the protests of the Perruche family lawyers that theirs is a “unique case” without wider implications, it signals the acceptance of the idea that a disabled person ought not to live – and if not all disabled people, at least Nicholas Perruche. And perhaps soon, Canada’s own Mervyn Krangle.*******