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"Wrongfully Born" Ohio Case Another Step Down Morality's Slippery Slope

By Joe Giardiello

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 now, from 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 disabled. 

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 perfect child.)  

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 unforeseeable. 

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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But there is a much more insidious side to the story.  We’re back to the old slippery slope.  Once a child is declared “wrongfully born” how long will it be before liberals are claiming it can be starved to death?  After all, what sort of life is it if the child can’t even feed himself or talk or walk?  Is that really a quality of life worth living?  And who better to decide such a case than judges sitting contently in their ivory tower.  








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