OTTAWA, October 1, 2001 ( – The Canadian Supreme Court has agreed to hear what is believed to be the first ‘wrongful birth’ suit to hit the high court. Pam and Murray Krangle of Maple Ridge British Columbia are demanding their doctor pay for their child’s care since the doctor did not advise her to take an amniocentesis test to determine that her child had Down syndrome. Mrs. Krangle says she would have aborted her son had she been made aware of his condition before birth.

The son, Mervyn, is now 10-years-old, and according to doctors needs a lifetime of constant care. The case does not deal with the ‘wrongful birth’ issue head on however, since the court has been asked to rule on whether payments from the doctor’s insurance company should continue indefinitely or whether Mervyn should be placed on welfare support. In a futile attempt to reach moral high-ground in the case, the Krangles argue “In the end, no parent should be able to pass his or her financial responsibility to the state.”

Such cases have led to astronomically high insurance fees for doctors who deliver babies – driving many professionals from the practice. The success of the suits, which penalize doctors for ostensibly failing to encourage genetic testing, or amniocentesis, is very disturbing both in terms of its implications for pro-life doctors and in terms of what it says about our society’s recognition of the responsibility of parents. Many pro-life doctors refuse to refer patients for search and destroy amniocentesis and other such tests, so they face a higher risk of prosecution by dissatisfied parents. In late June 1999, a [Michigan] appeals court panel warned the logic of wrongful-birth suits “could quickly slide into applied eugenics and the elimination of supposedly unfit human lives.”

For a background on wrongful birth suits see the Interim:

For more on the Krangle case see the National Post at: