As is being reported pretty much everywhere, a couple is was awarded $2.9M in a lawsuit against their hospital on the grounds of the "wrongful birth" of their child. They had prenatal testing done in the first trimester of the pregnancy, but a lab mistake falsely deemed their daughter to be chromosomally normal. She was born with Down Syndrome and now, at the age of four, the family is suing because apparently they would have made the decision 90% of other parents make who know about a Down Syndrome case during the first trimester: They would have terminated.
I'm a liberal person. Anyone who reads this blog knows I hate guns and support the right to choose (the choices I would make are different than what I think should be legally available to other people, if you're lazy, like me, and don't want to click on links) . But this case is just bad parenting.
There are risks to having a child in the first place. When we had our Down Syndrome scare, it took some real soul-searching for me to realize I didn't want further testing because while it might rule out that particular disease, no amount of testing can rule out the myriad of other possibilities that can go wrong with a child. Great if there's no Down Syndrome, but what if there were a test for fetal Autism? What if you could know in advance your baby would develop childhood cancer or what if there were a crystal ball to know your child would die in a car accident as a teen or get breast cancer in her 30's? No life is perfect. It's pretty Nazi-era to claim the goal of living is to create only perfect children.
What makes this case particularly troubling is that the child is, or will be at some point, aware of the case. How do you explain that to a child? "Well, we would have aborted you if we had known what you'd be". That, my friends, is verbal abuse. I understand not everyone is capable or willing to raise a child with special needs. I can't claim to understand that challenge because my children are both medically normal (never mind the fact Bee has a knack of announcing to a crowded room when she has to poop or that Buh-Stell is bizarrely crusty behind the ears).
The fact is most parents choose to terminate Down Syndrome pregnancies. All this couple is admitting to is that they would have chosen the same course as many other people in their shoes had the hospital not made an error. But it's too late. The child is here, she's born, and she can understand every word being said. To tell her, publicly and in print, "You were a mistake" is cruel and terrible parenting.
What is not right, however, is the backlash. The couple is receiving death threats! What is up with internet people out for blood lately? Is the economy stressing people to the max so they take out their frustrations on people they don't even know? You can disagree with someone's decision without calling for their demise. The big go-to insult for me in recent weeks has been to call child protective services on me. "Call DCFS!" is the new, "yo mama so fat!" My big crimes were not wanting guns in the house (creating an unsafe environment, according to one vocal gun nut) and not scrutinizing Nick Jr.'s motives in retiring a cartoon moose. Yes, my children suffer terribly from both of those things.
Conclusion: I don't agree with the lawsuit, but these people are just handling their business and don't deserve harassment.
Filed under: Court of Public Opinion