Couple who would have aborted disabled son awarded $4.5 million for ‘wrongful birth’
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.
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.”