Couple Receives over 21 Million Dollars for “Wrongful Birth” of Handicapped Son

A judge has awarded over $21 million dollars to a couple for the "wrongful birth" of their second handicapped son. The couple would have aborted the child if they had known about his disability, the Tampa Bay Tribune reports.

Daniel and Amara Estrada have two sons who are both physically handicapped with the same genetic disorder, Smith-Lemli-Opitz, which does not allow them to properly synthesize cholesterol. The children have difficulty walking and must be fed through a feeding tube. They also have smaller heads and other physical abnormalities.

After the first son was born, the couple's doctor, Boris Kousseff, from the University of South Florida (USF), told them that they would be able to have other normal children and did not diagnose the problem as hereditary. Consequently, when their second son Caleb was born with the same disorder, the couple sued the doctor and USF.

"He says you have the same chance of anyone else in society of having a normal child. He doesn't tell the truth," said the family's attorney Christian Searcy, Tampa Bay My Fox reports. The judge ruled that the couple will receive over $21 million dollars in recompense for the negligence of the doctor.

The couple claimed that if they had had a proper diagnosis after the birth of their first child in 2002, they could have determined by a pregnancy test that the second son Caleb had the same disorder. According to the lawsuit, if the couple had known this, they would have aborted him, the Associated Press reports.

Commenting on the situation, president and spokesperson for Florida Right to Life Lynda Bell told, "How bizarre that in our nation, not only have we become a throw-away generation, including our babies that are not perfect, but that now we're holding doctors responsible to deliver a perfect baby. I think this is absurd, and I think this court is opening up a Pandora's box to all types of litigations that say, 'It's not just a matter of nature, now I can hold a doctor accountable for an imperfect child.'"

Bell stated, "Doctor's may feel that they have a responsibility to lead people to abortion just so there's not a lawsuit." She continued, "I'm not going to weigh in on whether or not the doctor was negligent without knowing all the facts of the case, but I think there's a very fine line between a negligent physician and having him being responsible for an unborn child, whether or not it is perfect." She also said that the doctor might have been sued legitimately for negligence, but not for "wrongful birth." "Doctors are not God," she said. "They're physicians."

This story is similar to the case of an Austrian doctor in 2006 who was threatened in court with paying lifetime support costs for a young girl who was born with Down's syndrome. The mother claimed that she would have aborted her daughter if she had known about the child's condition early enough.

Similarly, in 2003 a British Columbia, Canada court ruled that Dr. Ken Kan of Richmond must pay $325,000 for "wrongful birth," after he failed to diagnose that a child had Down's syndrome. The mother claimed that their handicapped child's birth "totally disrupted our plans," and caused the couple's marriage to fall apart.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage