By Gudrun Schultz

  VIENNA, Austria, July 14, 2006 ( – A doctor may be forced to pay lifetime child support for a girl born with Down’s syndrome, after the child’s mother said she would have aborted the girl if she had known about the disability in time, Fox News reported Wednesday.

  The Austrian Supreme Court has ordered the Salzburg Provincial Court to consider the case, saying if the woman was not provided with sufficient details about a high-risk pregnancy, the doctor involved would be held financially responsible for the child’s care.

  The doctor, who has not been named, advised his 31-year-old patient to have further tests done on her unborn child, but did not give her complete information on the risks, said Supreme Court official Ronald Rohrer. The mother did not discover her child’s condition until 10 weeks later, when she had passed the allowable time period for an abortion.

  Her daughter, now nine years old, was born with a congenital condition known as Down’s syndrome that causes developmental delays, reduced learning capacity and physical problems.

  Screening for chromosomal abnormalities is routinely suggested for pregnant women aged 35 or older, when pregnancy is considered to be higher-risk by the medical community, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health.

  An expert from Vienna University, Gerhard Marschuetz, said the case could pressure doctors to treat all pregnancies in women over 30 as high-risk, the Kurier reported.

  In a similar Canadian case in 2003, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ordered Dr. Ken Kan of Richmond to pay $325,000 to the parents of a Down’s syndrome child for “failing” to diagnose the girl’s disability before birth. The child’s mother, Lydia Zhang, said the birth of her daughter Sherry “totally disrupted our plans.” If she had known of the disability beforehand, she said, she would have aborted Sherry.

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