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Couple sues for ‘wrongful pregnancy’ after failed sterilization

The woman says her four-year-old is "the absolute love of my life," but wants compensation for the costs of raising her and damages.
Fri Mar 21, 2014 - 6:45 pm EST

HAZEL CREST, IL, March 21, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A 44-year old mother of four is suing a doctor for “wrongful pregnancy” after she had a child in 2010 despite having been sterilized.

According to Cynthia Williams, she is a carrier of sickle cell anemia, as is her husband. When their second child was born with the disease, they decided to use the rhythm method of birth control to avoid children. After a third child was born healthy, Williams tried birth control pills, but high blood pressure became an issue. Eventually, she asked Dr. Byron Rosner of Reproductive Health Associates to sterilize her via tubal ligation. 

But she nevertheless became pregnant and gave birth to her fourth child, who suffers from sickle cell anemia. She and her husband then sued Rosner. 

Williams is one of 3.7 percent of women who become pregnant within a decade after tubal ligation. For this reason, Williams had trouble finding a lawyer to take her case, until it came to light that Rosner sterilized Williams' right tube – which Williams had lost when she was 12. The left ovary and tube were left untouched by Rosner. 

While Rosner's attorney says the doctor “complied with the standard of care” in conducting the tubal ligation, Williams says he was negligent. She wants compensation for the costs of raising her fourth child, as well as damages for an illness that left her with congestive heart failure after her last child was born by c-section. Williams spent two weeks in intensive care and missed nine months of work. 

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Williams describes Kennadi, her four-year old child, as “the absolute love of my life,” but says “it's hard” to raise her. The couple's other children are 25, 21, and 17, and Williams says “everybody's had to pitch in.”

ABC News reports Williams' lawsuit is the first of its kind in Illinois. State law does not allow for the the recovery of expenses tied to the raising of a child who was born with a genetic defect after a failed sterilization procedure. However, an appellate court ruled in February that the case had merit, and could move forward. 

The court cited Illinois Supreme Court precedent, noting that while there was a history of the Court allowing for recompense for normal damages from a failed sterilization procedure, “extraordinary” recompense – which is what Williams and her husband want in their lawsuit, due to the costs of raising Kennadi – has no history in the state.

A prior case addressed by the state Supreme Court decided a couple whose child was born with ADHD did not deserve “extraordinary” compensation, since the condition was not predictable from a failed sterilization. Given the presence of a child in the family with sickle cell anemia, as well as Williams and her husband being carriers, the appellate court ruled Williams' case had merit.


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