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Ben Johnson

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Jury awards couple $50 million in ‘wrongful birth’ lawsuit

Ben Johnson

KING COUNTY, Washington, December 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A jury in Washington has awarded a whopping $50 million settlement to a couple that says, if they had known their five-year-old son would be born with a genetic defect, they would have aborted him.

Brock and Rhea Wuth sued Valley Medical Center and the Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) for the “wrongful birth” of their son, Oliver.

The couple, both of whom are teachers, had their child tested in utero for any genetic abnormalities. Tests conducted by LabCorp said the child would have a 50-50 chance of being born without any issues.

But the Wuths said Valley Medical did not send LabCorp the information about where to look for a genetic defect, causing the company to miss Oliver's condition.

Oliver was born on July 12, 2008, with “unbalanced chromosomal translocation,” a condition in which the child inherits mismatched chromosomes from his parents, resulting in extra or missing genetic material. He cannot walk and has an IQ of less than 70, according to the Seattle Times.

The Wuths said, had they known, they would have had their child aborted. A jury in King County decided last Tuesday Valley Medical had to pay for the family's lifelong inconvenience, awarding the couple $50 million.

“What is most troubling to me is not that the test results were inaccurate, but that the purpose of the test itself was so that the parents could decide whether or not to kill their own child,” Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews.com. “This case, and those like it where ‘wrongful birth’ is used as justification for a lawsuit, really exposes the eugenic mindset which has crept into our culture that some lives are not worthy of life.”

Other commentators shared his outrage.

“This beggars the moral imagination,” Rod Dreher wrote at The American Conservative. “What parent goes to court to contend that justice requires that their baby, however damaged, should be dead?”

So-called “wrongful birth” lawsuits have become a global phenomenon. In 2011, a Florida couple received $4.5 million after giving birth to a child with no arms or legs, whom they said they would have terminated.

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Not all such cases are filed by unhappy parents. In Israel, so many children born with birth defects sued for “wrongful birth” – on the grounds that they should have been aborted – that the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in May 2012 that, in the future, only parents could bring such lawsuits.

The concept of wrongful birth offends the core ideals of life as a positive experience, critics say.

“No matter what stage of development, no matter the level of physical or intellectual abilities, no matter the race or gender, every human life has dignity and should be nurtured and protected,” Father Boquet told LifeSiteNews from Rome. “To claim any child’s birth as ‘wrongful,’ or that having a disabled child is a ‘tragedy’ as the Valley Medical Center’s statement declared not only rejects the inherent dignity of little Oliver, but of all human life.”

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