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What is a wrongful birth lawsuit?

Most people have probably heard of a wrongful death lawsuit, but few are likely familiar with litigation for wrongful birth.

A wrongful birth action may be brought by the parents of a baby born with severe medical conditions against a medical facility or individual doctors, nurses or midwives responsible for the baby's condition.

In some circumstances, plaintiffs might allege that one or more defendants failed to provide adequate genetic counseling or misdiagnosed in utero the developing fetus' abnormalities. Discovering at birth that their baby has severe congenital disabilities can not only be more than the parents can afford to treat financially but may prove too vast a barrier to their ever being able to form normal, loving parental bonds with the baby.

A situation like this could arise if a physician has very strong pro-life views and the parents have stated a desire to abort a malformed fetus that is not likely to live long, or whose life will be beset with complications and devoid of meaningful interactions with others. The pro-life physician could have deceived the parents into carrying the baby to term by concealing the results of medical tests done of the developing fetus.

In order to prevail, the parents must be able to prove that had they been provided with truthful test results and/or actual diagnoses, they would not have chosen to carry the baby to term.

As one can imagine, a decision to file a wrongful birth lawsuit is not one to be taken lightly. Many children born with birth defects can and do grow up to have meaningful lives. Seeking legal guidance at these times can help distraught parents put the situation into perspective when making their decision.

Source: Findlaw, "Wrongful Birth and Wrongful Life Lawsuits," accessed Feb. 04, 2016

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