"Wrongfully Born" Ohio Case Another Step Down Morality's Slippery Slope
It’s quite possible
that American morality will take its next step down that precarious slippery
slope today. You know the one. It
started sometime back in the 1960’s but didn’t really get rolling until Roe
vs. Wade in 1973.
The forces of
relative morality gave a mighty push down the slope recently with the starvation
death of Terri Schaivo. Judges,
lawyers and a husband with ulterior motives were given the power to decide if a
life is actually worth living. But
Ohio, comes a case that will chill opponents of Schaivo’s forced
starvation (and maybe a few others) to the bone.
It seems a couple of
loving parents, Helen and Richard Schirmer, are seeking monetary damages for the
“wrongful birth” of their son, Matthew, whom they would have aborted had
doctors told them about a possible genetic defect.
The Schirmers knew
the child had a one-in-three chance (higher if it was a boy) of being born with
a genetic defect that could have left the child mentally and physically
Despite the known
risks, in 1997, Mrs. Schirmer became pregnant and had genetic tests and an
ultrasound of the unborn baby that showed, according to the lawsuit, the child
was a girl and carried the same inactive form of the defect that the mother
carried. The parents claim they told doctors they wanted to abort the
child should she have an active form of the defect. (Put aside for a moment the fact that the parents are
admitting they went into the pregnancy with the plan to abort a less than
Although there is no
comment from attorneys for the doctors or the hospital on the merits of the
suit, one would imagine, especially in such a case, they would have qualified
everything they told the Schirmers at the time of the tests.
It’s no secret that medical science is partially an art form, and there
is always the potential for errors that are not from negligence and which are
This case has already
wound itself through a common pleas court and an appeals court who ruled,
respectively, that the Schirmers can sue for prenatal and delivery expenses, as
well as expenses after the child was born.
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The Ohio Supreme
Court will decide today on the previous issues as well as whether the Schirmers
can also sue for monetary damages for pain and suffering.
It is important to note that none of these courts have ruled on the
merits of the case – just whether the case can be tried under Ohio law.
The medical community
is, of course watching this case closely, since it may very well help them
decide whether to even offer such genetic testing in the future.
Why risk giving parents such information if the tests prove erroneous and
they end up getting sued.
Not to worry you may
say. These “parents” are only
trying to recoup the money they have spent caring for their child, which they
otherwise wouldn’t be burdened with if the doctors and hospital had not given
them erroneous information.
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