Down Syndrome "wrongful birth" suit is bad parenting, backlash uncalled for

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.



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  • If you believe in the right to choose why does this bother you?? I'm pro choice, only because of rape or if pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. And if it's a rape scenario then only in the first trimester. Other than that being young and careless just doesn't count. I get extremely annoyed when women get one, two, three abortions just because they don't want a baby or aren't financially ready for it, etc. if you can't step up and be an adult and accept the baby you created then you should promptly close your legs and chill out. But if you are so liberal and ok with abortion why does this even bother you? No it's not right to only want perfect, healthy babies. But it's also not right to suck a baby out of your uterus just because you don't want the responsibility of having a baby. It's not right to only want a baby when you have planned it out perfectly. Shit happens. People get laid and when they do, they should throw on a rubber instead of being selfish and killing a little heartbeat inside of them. Better yet, if you can't be accountable then again I'll say close your legs and don't open them until the frontal lobes in your brain have matured. Anywho :D I don't agree with the lawsuit, these people are assholes. But most of humanity is so what else is new?

  • In reply to Megan:

    This bothers me because the window on the right to choose closes at a certain point - when the child is four years old is way past that point. Now you have a person to whom you have to explain why they are not wanted.

    Does abortion based on the fetus's ill health sit right with me? Well, I wouldn't do it. I'm entitled to my judgey opinion that it's a bad thing to do. But do I support it being a legal option, just because it's not a choice I would make? Absolutely.

    My opinions should not be the law that governs other people.

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    In reply to Megan:

    Unfortunately for you, most of your argument is an opinion. I believe what those people did is aweful and unfair to the child and the hospital. But, that is also an opinion and all people want to do is make others conform to their beliefs. I understand your view, but I'm trying to help you understand that its pointless.

  • Hi there,

    I have seen this "fact" everywhere but never with any links to studies or data to back it up (other than a small study done in the UK 15 years ago with 30 year old data). Can you share where you got this info?

    "The fact is most parents choose to terminate Down Syndrome pregnancies."


  • In reply to ssliver1:

    I'll dig it up and post it later! I came across this in my research of the topic when the screen for my last baby indicated a high likelihood of DS.

    I was surprised as conservative as this country is that 90% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted. I have a suspicion what people do and what they *say* they do are two different things.

  • In reply to ssliver1:

    UPDATE: I remember seeing the figure 90%, wikipedia quotes a 2002 study claiming 91%-93%:

    "Abortion rates

    A 2002 literature review of elective abortion rates found that 91–93% of pregnancies in the United Kingdom and Europe with a diagnosis of Down syndrome were terminated.[56] Data from the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register in the United Kingdom indicates that from 1989 to 2006 the proportion of women choosing to terminate a pregnancy following prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome has remained constant at around 92%.

    In the United States a number of studies have examined the abortion rate of fetuses with Down syndrome. Three studies estimated the termination rates at 95%, 98%, and 87% respectively."

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