Many times, “wrongful death” is at the root cause of a lawsuit, but what happens in the case of a “wrongful birth” charge?
In West Palm Beach, Florida, a couple sued a doctor and an ultrasound technician for negligence. The two claimed that they would have aborted their son, who was born with no arms and only one leg, had they known about his disabilities beforehand. PalmBeachPost.com’s Jane Musgrave writes:
[The parents] claimed they would have never have brought Bryan into the world had they known about his horrific disabilities. Had Morel and technicians at OB/GYN Specialists of the Palm Beaches and Perinatal Specialists of the Palm Beaches properly administered two ultrasounds and seen he was missing three limbs, the West Palm Beach couple said they would have terminated the pregnancy.
As a result of what some are calling a “wrongful birth,” Ana Mejia and Rodolfo Santana sued Dr. Marie Morel and an ultrasound technician for $9 million — a figure that was estimated to cover the child’s expenses for the next 70 years.
The couple believe that the doctor and his staff member should have noticed the baby’s issues before he was born. For what was apparently seen as a failure to properly read sonograms, a jury comprised of four men and two women sided with the couple, holding the doctor 85 percent negligent and the technician 15 percent negligent.
While the couple didn’t win the fill amount they wanted, they walked away with $4.5 million — half of the figure that was originally requested. Feeling overjoyed, they explained that the award would greatly assist their son Bryan.
Attorney Mark Rosen, who represents Morel and the responsible clinics, says that the losing party will appeal. According to Rosen, the couple had refused an amniocentesis, which may have helped to predict Bryan’s problems before his birth. According to LifeSiteNews.com, he said:
“There is nothing Dr. Morel wants more than for Bryan Santana to have a happy, healthy life. That doesn’t mean they’re responsible. Is it fair to blame physicians for acts of nature?”
The Palm Beach Post’s editorial board weighed in on this contentious battle, with Andrew Marra taking a stand against the parents’ lawsuit:
Bryan’s parents are understandably upset that they had no warning about the issues that awaited him. The problem with their lawsuit is its premise that their son is more flawed or somehow worse than a person with four fully formed limbs.
Despite his considerable deformities, there is no reason to assume that Bryan cannot lead a fulfilling and productive life…Certainly, Bryan will face challenges that few have to consider, and that is tragic. Whether these obstacles mean his life is not worth living should be up to him to decide, not to Ms. Mejia and a jury of her peers.
But Jac Wilder VerSteeg has a very different stance on the matter:
Ana Mejia absolutely is morally justified in suing health care providers who failed to warn her that her son, now 3 years old, would be born with three limbs missing. [...]
So how does a mother who would have terminated a pregnancy have any standing to argue on that child’s behalf? Isn’t there something inherently hypocritical about a “wrongful life” lawsuit?
Not at all.
What do you think — do Mejia and Santana deserve the $4.5 million they’ve been awarded? Take our poll, below: