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Friday, March 03, 2006 

OH Court Allows Parents' Lawsuits when testing would have led to abortion

Wow, I couldn't believe they weren't able before this.

Parents are allowed to sue a doctor if a genetic screening misses a severe or fatal condition that would have caused them to seek an abortion, a divided state Supreme Court ruled Friday

The 4-3 decision limited such lawsuits to costs associated with a pregnancy and the birth of the child, saying such parents could not sue for pain-and-suffering damages or repayment of the costs of raising a disabled child.
Of course, is it the screen that misses it or is it the doctors misinterpretation? And why not pain and suffering? I would think that far outweighs the costs of birth and pregnancy. What if it is a disease that could have been treated in utero - can the child sue? Heres more info and some answers:

The decision was a partial victory for a Kentucky couple who sued a Cincinnati obstetrics practice and hospital that provided genetic counseling and told them their fetus did not have a genetic disorder that the mother carried. The 8-year-old born in 1997 has the disorder and can't speak or crawl.

The finding overruled a lower-court decision that Richard and Helen Schirmer could sue for the costs of raising their disabled son.

Justice Maureen O'Connor, writing for the majority, noted that the Schirmers had indicated they would have aborted the child if they had received the correct diagnosis. As a result, she said they could not sue for costs above those of raising a child without a disability, since that was never a possibility.

That doesn't make much sense to me. (Maybe I am missing something.)

Life without the impairment "was never a possibility in this situation," O'Connor said. "The crux of this case is a comparison of nonexistence versus existence, albeit impaired."

The case was the first time Ohio's justices had issued a definitive ruling on a claim of "wrongful birth." A handful of states allow such claims by parents seeking compensation for the financial burden of caring for a severely disabled child or the emotional trauma of watching a baby die shortly after birth.

Ohio and several other states have previously rejected a different type of claim, called "wrongful life," in which the disabled child is the plaintiff.
Impaired existence, that's a nice way to put it - seems like some of these kids are barely existing at all. Can you imagine the strain on the family? How sad. Fortunately, the combination of good doctors and amazing genetic tests can prevent alot of suffering. (Via LA Times)

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