‘Wrongful birth’ suit? That’s right, an Aussie mom wants damages after failed abortion

A now 20-year-old Australian woman wants compensation for the trauma and financial burden of having to raise her son.
Wed Aug 24, 2016 - 10:23 am EST
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VICTORIA, Australia, August 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – An Australian woman whose child survived an abortion attempt is suing the abortion doctor and the public health system for “wrongful birth,” claiming great psychological trauma and financial burden resulting from her now 2-year-old child being alive today.

The 20-year-old woman had reportedly been to her doctor for the abortion in August 2013, Australia’s Eyewitness 10 News reports, but the procedure failed and she gave birth to a boy in April 2014.

She is seeking an unspecified amount of financial compensation for her psychological trauma and depression, which she attributes to the incident, and for the cost of raising her son, including housing, clothes, schooling, and food.

The Victoria woman alleges doctors ignored indications she was still pregnant, having returned to her GP after the abortion, reporting some tenderness and a prickly feeling in her abdomen, and the doctor allegedly failing to conduct an ultrasound to confirm this. A blood test that December then verified high hormone levels still present, and a subsequent ultrasound five days later confirmed she was actually 20-weeks into her pregnancy.

A medical negligence attorney from Melbourne told Radio 3AW News Talk that established law in Australia did allow for wrongful birth cases to be brought when parents are left with a child they did not plan on having. But the law was unclear, Kate Booth said, particularly in cases such as this where it concerns a healthy child.

Regardless, Booth said the question for the court is one of medical negligence, and not whether the child is happy being alive, nor whether the parents love the child.

“Wrongful birth” cases in the United States have gone both ways.

A Montana mother sued earlier this year saying she would have aborted her child if her six-year-old daughter’s severe cystic fibrosis had been diagnosed in utero. A judge dismissed the case after the jury found her healthcare providers had not deviated from the standard of care in her prenatal treatment.

A couple in Washington state claiming wrongful birth was awarded a $50 million settlement in 2013 after suing the medical facility and lab company for missing their son’s genetic defect in testing.

In 2012, an Oregon couple won $3 million from a hospital because doctors there didn’t diagnose their daughter’s Down syndrome in utero.

A Florida couple was awarded $4.5 million in 2011 after suing an obstetrician and ultrasound technician for failing to read sonograms properly, resulting in the “wrongful birth” of their son who had no arms and one leg.

The contradiction of parents suing for their children’s “wrongful birth” was spelled out in particular last year in the case of a single Florida woman. She was offered a second abortion after the first one failed but then decided to keep her child, calling him her “little angel” while still stating she was "very angry, still angry" from the shock of learning he was alive when she thought him to be successfully aborted.

"Can you imagine grieving for a child you had to terminate to find out you're still pregnant with the child? It is a blow," she told a news reporter. "I want justice for my pain."

Her statements effectively illustrated the paradox of parents now seeking compensation for having a child they would have earlier sought to terminate, Human Life International President Father Shenan Boquet said at the time. 

"The contradictions in this mother's statements are so painful to read,” Father Boquet said. “She … is in dire need of prayer and healing, as one day she will have to explain to her child why she sued the doctor who failed to kill him.”

  abortion, australia, lawsuit, victoria

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