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"wrongful birth" cases & winning millions


Chowder Head

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Jury awards couple $50 million in ‘wrongful birth’ lawsuit - would have aborted son with “unbalanced chromosomal translocation,†- missing genetic material. he can not walk and has an IQ less than 70. I would also be upset if I did test and the decision about bring in to this world such a handicap child was basically taken from me. Although its from lifesitenews.com and there is but the babiessss its an interesting read.

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/jury-a ... th-lawsuit

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The commenters have found the family blog and the nasty comments have begun.

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My state of Kansas passed a law that prohibits wrongful life suits while allowing doctors.to lie about prenatal test results if they think a family will choose an abortion. Apparently 13 states prohibit these suits but I'm not sure how many protect the lying about tests.

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There was a similar case a year or two ago in which couple had a daughter with Down syndrome and there had been error with their pre-natal tests and they sued and they also said that they would have aborted. I recall that the couple won the lawsuit, but there were huge debates about them.

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We wouldn't need parents to say to everybody "we would rather not have this kid" if we had single payer health care and more publicly supported assistqnce to disabled individuals and their families.

We'd probably have fewer abortions as well, though of course that is always an individual choice.

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We wouldn't need parents to say to everybody "we would rather not have this kid" if we had single payer health care and more publicly supported assistqnce to disabled individuals and their families.

We'd probably have fewer abortions as well, though of course that is always an individual choice.

Exactly. Parents don't file these suits because they hate their kids; they file them because they see it as the only way they have a hope in hell of covering the medical and other care expenses that come with a severely handicapped child.

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Reading the blog, which is a few years old, it's obvious the parents love their son. I have a hard time with them suing, and being awarded $50 million dollars. They were told their child had a 50/50 chance of being born without issues. That seems pretty high then that there could be issues. "But the Wuths said Valley Medical did not send LabCorp the information about where to look for a genetic defect." I'm not clear on what this means. Can someone who knows more about genetics explain it? They have an older child, I wonder if they had genetic studies with him? Was there a specific reason they were having testing done?

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Reading the blog, which is a few years old, it's obvious the parents love their son. I have a hard time with them suing, and being awarded $50 million dollars. They were told their child had a 50/50 chance of being born without issues. That seems pretty high then that there could be issues. "But the Wuths said Valley Medical did not send LabCorp the information about where to look for a genetic defect." I'm not clear on what this means. Can someone who knows more about genetics explain it? They have an older child, I wonder if they had genetic studies with him? Was there a specific reason they were having testing done?

The Seattle Times article is easier to read. Here is the story in a nutshell:

- The parents each had genetic testing done and were told that they had a 50/50 chance of conceiving a child who was perfectly normal. So it isn't just this particular pregnancy - any time this couple gets pregnant, there is a 50/50 chance of genetic defect/translocation.

- Mrs. Wuth became pregnant and had the fetus tested for genetic abnormalities. The tests came back completely normal.

- Baby Wuth is born in July with a genetic abnormality.

- The Wuths discover that the test that was performed required a genetic road map to properly screen for this condition. The hospital did not inform the family that this information was needed and the lab did not follow up with a phone call when this information was not received.

Rather than call this suit a wrongful birth suit, it should be a simple medical malpractice suit. This family paid for genetic counseling and screening and both the provider and the lab failed to provide the services purchased. What if the lab had missed a metabolic disorder or sickle cell anemia? Genetic testing is a valuable resource, but it is only as good as the provider and lab performing the test.

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Genetic testing is not exact, and that's just the reality of the science at this point. These parents knew they had a 50% chance of having a child with abnormalities. I feel bad for what happened to them, but if they weren't willing to risk having a child with a disability they should never have even tried to get pregnant in the first place. They chose to roll the dice anyway. It was their decision, and they didn't get the 'perfect' child they thought they were entitled to. Too bad that's not how life works. I have sympathy and they have the right to be angry and to want compensation for botched test results, but if they wanted to be absolutely sure that they had a baby without a disability they should have adopted - and even then, nothing's certain. The child might develop autism, or cancer. A perfectly healthy 4-year-old could sustain a traumatic brain injury. Welcome to the real world. If you can't deal with it, don't have kids.

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Reading the blog, which is a few years old, it's obvious the parents love their son. I have a hard time with them suing, and being awarded $50 million dollars. They were told their child had a 50/50 chance of being born without issues. That seems pretty high then that there could be issues. "But the Wuths said Valley Medical did not send LabCorp the information about where to look for a genetic defect." I'm not clear on what this means. Can someone who knows more about genetics explain it? They have an older child, I wonder if they had genetic studies with him? Was there a specific reason they were having testing done?

A translocation could occur at any point on any chromosome. I think these tests need to know where to look to find them.

Here's a visual of the risks. 25% bad combination A (unbalanced, too many copies), 25% bad combination B (unbalanced, not enough copies), 25% good combination (balanced, right number of copies), 25% normal.

http://lens.auckland.ac.nz/images/0/0f/ ... cation.png

The author of this blog got three children from 13 pregnancies, including seven or eight PGD tested embryos, not all of whom were genetically normal. Their translocation is fatal by 18-20 weeks of pregnancy if unbalanced. And she's hilarious, too. But yes, thirteen pregnancies, two successful (two kids are 13a and 13b, twins).

http://julia.typepad.com/julia/2007/06/ ... mail_.html

http://julia.typepad.com/julia/2007/07/ ... stars.html

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These parents knew they had a 50% chance of having a child with abnormalities.

That was apparently before testing. It's why they paid to have the testing and counseling done. Due to failure on the parts of both the medical center and LabCorp, the testing was not properly performed. Therefore, it was basically malpractice. They didn't get what was ordered and paid for.

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That was apparently before testing. It's why they paid to have the testing and counseling done. Due to failure on the parts of both the medical center and LabCorp, the testing was not properly performed. Therefore, it was basically malpractice. They didn't get what was ordered and paid for.

This. Plus, THEY were okay with aborting abnormal fetuses. The last I heard, this is completely legal in Washington state. (I would say "across America, but not so sure about a few states.) It's their choice whether they want to adopt or get pregnant and then do the genetic testing and aborting if not okay.

It may not be choices I would make or others on the board would make, but it's not our body or choice TO make. Bottom line, they were told the baby was fine, and he wasn't.

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I personally have serious ethical issues with choosing to conceive naturally and then aborting any abnormal fetuses when the risk of genetic defects are 50%. However, unless we're going to require insurance to pay for IVF with genetic testing, families who cannot afford IVF on their own and want children are going to feel they have no other choice but to abort rather than screen in the first place.

As someone else said, calling this a wrongful birth suit is merely sensationalizing a medical malpractice suit. The hospital failed to send necessary information and the lab failed to get proper clarification.

I can understand LabCorp's frustration in this suit. The hospital was supposed to have a degreed, trained genetics counselor who transferred the sample and requisition forms to the lab. Had that person handled it, there wouldn't have been an oversight. They want to argue that their lab tech shouldn't be as equally culpable. However, their lab tech is required to have a Bachelor's degree and significant training AND certifications. I happen to know from a friend who quit LabCorp that they are horrible to work for, overwork their techs and treat them as if they are not the highly educated and highly trained individuals they are.

I personally would not abort a child with special needs. However, that is my personal stance, and if I've learned one thing it's that every individual must choose for themselves. In the down syndrome suit, irrc, there was some question on whether the parents would have actually aborted as well as whether the doctor was liable for the mistake in the manner the parents claimed (took the wrong tissue for the test in the first place). There seems no doubt this family was looking specifically for THIS problem and absolutely would have aborted versus wanted the fishing expedition to not have any mistakes involved.

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Legally, "wrongful birth" is a separate tort.

Medical malpractice means that the damage was caused by something the medical professional did or didn't do.

Here, though, the damage was caused by a genetic defect. Screening would have only given the parents the information that the defect was there. The only way that the mistake affected the outcome was that the parents could have decided to abort if they had the information. Therefore, the only way to win this lawsuit is for the parents to swear that they would have aborted if they had this information on time.

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My state of Kansas passed a law that prohibits wrongful life suits while allowing doctors.to lie about prenatal test results if they think a family will choose an abortion. Apparently 13 states prohibit these suits but I'm not sure how many protect the lying about tests.

The idea of this being legal makes me dizzy. It goes against absolutely everything a doctor stands for to willingly lie to HIS PATIENT. Because the patient is the woman, not the embryo/fetus. Also, way to encourage people to lie to their doctors because I would never let my doctor in on the fact that I might consider an abortion if I knew he was allowed to lie to me about my test results based on that knowledge. Wow.

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Fair play to the parents, and Lifesite News commentators can fuck right off. The parents fairly obviously love the kid, even though if they had known what his life would be like they would have chosen differently. They're now going to need cash to help him through what's a total life-changer for them, because that child will stay a child forever, even when they're old and need care themselves. They're not saying they don't want him now he's here, that they hate him and are planning to kill him asap or any of the stupid crap Lifesite claims they are thinking.

Normally I am no fan of suing hospitals etc for bad medical decisions. The cash doesn't bring anyone back, it just puts a dent in the NHS's budget at a time when it doesn't need that. But this scenario is different and severely disabled kids need a lot of money to look after them - and in the US is not the funding and other help that parents of disabled kids get here (even here they have to really fight to get all of their entitlements). I can see why the parents made the decision to go ahead with the claim.

I also laughed at "when the boy grows older and is Googling and finds out about his parents' claim he'll realise that his parents never loved him and only cared for the $$$$$" Yeah, right. That kid has an IQ somewhere between 50 and 70, IQ's a fairly rubbish measure but I think what they're trying to say there is that this is a child with severe learning disabilities. I doubt he's going to be rushing to the puter to google his parents any time soon or that he'd be able to comprehend the court case if he did.

Finally, cracking up over "I will adopt the tiny disabled angel if his evil parents don't want him!!" It is very easy to say that online - and very unlikely to be backed up by actual action if his parents did give him up for adoption.

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Local media was reporting that the parents even were very very specific in their concerns about where the anomaly had been found with family members, wanted the full range of testing looking for that specific thing, ect. So they really did try to cover all their bases as best as they could--and that was not followed through and they were never notified that it wasn't. So that's the issue, not "you told me I had a 50 percent chance of having a 'good' kid."

I don't know if I would have made the same decision either, but I can respect theirs. What a horrible place to be in. And I agree that $$ will be used to fund care/services for the kiddo, not get rich to them. At least in our state (I suspect in many many others as well) education and services for special needs kids is extremely inadequate, many people must supplement, and as many of the local school districts are self insured I'm going to guess that the health plan these folks have probably doesn't cover a whole lot for things like this. Granted, they'll qualify for medicaid probably in January and all that jazz, but that still doesn't help you get in, if you can't pay your own $$ too. :(

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I just hate the phrase "wrongful birth." I wish there were some other term the parents could use.

I get what you mean. "Wrongful birth" doesn't seem to fit. Maybe something like "underinformed gestation", to try to fit in the prenatal testing that was done?

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The commenters have found the family blog and the nasty comments have begun.

God, the comments there are unbelievable. Evidently the definition of being "pro life" includes "making sure to taunt already-born parents of already-born severely disabled child for the possibility of making a decision you disagree with".

Nasty nasty pieces of work, but I knew that already. Some young girls I know who were pro-choice received envelopes from a "pro-life" group sent to their home addresses (they had been doxed) full of pictures of dead babies and vile insults. The girls were 13, 14 and 15 and they ended up having to go to the police. Once they stop being adorable babies, the "pro-life" part evaporates and even kids are fair game.

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Well, I'd certainly agree with him on one thing. Executing babies = bad idea.

However, abortion is not "executing a baby". Neither is "suing after a bad medical decision was made which has had lasting, lifelong effects for many people".

He then descends further into the ridiculous:

Think of the liability issues involved if medical establishments can now be sued for not killing your baby.

They would, indeed, be terrible. But that wasn't what happened here, so I don't even know what he's on about. The legal case was about a bungled test result which gave a false negative, not about a demand that hospitals arbitrarily kill babies - we don't even know for sure that the couple would have eventually decided to abort, and it certainly seems that they do love Oliver now they have him.

I was going to point out how the Nazis also murdered the disabled for the same reason we do: to rid society of those who might be considered a “burden.â€

Ah, Godwin! And I have to point out that the burden will never, ever fall on any of the moralisers and sanctimonious idiots who condemn the Wuths - they won't be in their 70s, wiping Oliver's bum and worrying endlessly about who will take care of him when they are gone. Or be Oliver himself. Or pay any of his medical bills, or for 24-hour carers, or for special foods, or for hoists, or for...

No, this will be a 9-day "Look at the ebil heathens, unlike our Godly selves!" wonder, and then they'll move on to the next case to be outraged about and send nasty emails to. Meanwhile, back at the Wuths'...

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I was going to point out how the Nazis also murdered the disabled for the same reason we do: to rid society of those who might be considered a “burden.â€

Praeteritio! I don't care if Cicero did use it, it's still a scuzzy move.

Also, hard as it may be for some to believe, it IS entirely possible to have a consistent position that is both pro-choice and anti-eugenics. Of course, supporting disabled individuals and their families is much harder than tsking loudly when people get abortions

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