Baby’s Birth “Wrongful” So Parents Get $3M

An Oregon jury awarded nearly $3 million to a couple whose daughter was born with Down syndrome after doctors had reassured them that the baby would be normal. They alleged that it had been a “wrongful birth” because had they known that the baby would be handicapped, they would have aborted her. A number of studies have shown that at least 90% of women who learn that they are pregnant with a Down syndrome child have an abortion.

The baby was born in 2007. The couple, Ariel and Deborah Levy, say that the $3 million will be needed to care for their daughter’s medical and social needs over her lifetime. The case was so controversial that the judge banned publication of photos of the Levys.

Bioethicist Art Caplan commented that the case showed the need for legal reform to cope with mistakes in genetic testing:

“Wrongful birth lawsuits are a horrible way to deal with failed prenatal testing. Forcing parents to argue that their child never should have been born may make legal sense but it is morally absurd. Why ask parents to reject the existence of their own child? Who can really put a value on a life that some argue in court ought not exist?

“There is no reason to permit wrongful birth or wrongful life cases. When a mistake is alleged about genetic testing there ought to be some sort of no-fault insurance scheme under the supervision of neutral mediators, not a courtroom slugfest that demeans the value of a life with disability and reeks of eugenics.”

Michael Cook


Michael Cook likes bad puns, bushwalking and black coffee. He did a BA at Harvard University in the US where it was good for networking, but moved to Sydney where it wasn’t. He also did a PhD on an obscure corner of Australian literature. He has worked as a book editor and magazine editor and has published articles in magazines and newspapers in the US, the UK and Australia.

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  • timesoftrouble

    Appalling and a sure indication that these times are evil.

  • Michelle Marie Allen

    Eugenics and abortion go hand in hand, as the evil twins they are ! So now a parent(s) should get paid if their child turns out to be less than perfect in their eyes ? They should have put their child up for adoption rather than being granted (compensation) for “care” of this child !

    On a brighter note…my daughter was told by amniocentesis that her son Micah would be born with Down Syndrome and was asked if she would consider abortion. She said , “What kind of mother do you think I am ?”, and of course refused such a blatant offer of hypocrisy to all of Motherhood !

    Needless to say…our Micah David was born without Down’s Syndrome, but even if he had, our family would still have loved and accepted him with open arms !

  • Marcia Rietmann

    As the mother of a 17-year old daughter, Sara, who has Down Syndrome, I have a couple of comments.  (1) It will be a blessing that this couple’s daughter has Down Syndrome, because of the nature of most children I know, including my daughter, she will love her parents with a love that they have not experienced, in spite of their “wrongful death” litigation.  My daughter does not fear, does not worry, does not hold grudges.  She has taught me so much–we just love this child. (2) Sara has a twin brother who does not have Down Syndrome.  We were told while I was pregnant and after learning that our twin girl had Down Syndrome and our twin boy did not that we could “selectively” reduce the pregnancy and abort the girl and not the boy, although it would be a risk to him.  That was NEVER in our plans and we told them so.  I just pray this couple will grow to see how uninformed they were and that they will allow their hearts to open to let the love and lessons their daughter has to give them and teach them transform their lives. 

  • This is the kind of dreadful loophole in the law that lets the most greedy peoplemisuse the law to steal money that is not theirs.  That this couple chose to behave in this way shows above all their shameless greed as well as their heartless feelings for their child.  I hope someone sues them for custody since they are obviously unfit to be parents for this child.

  • I agree!  The parents would rather kill their child rather than for the child to live with a family who will love her unconditionally!!!  Very sad!  I too was asked at 3months gestation if I would like to abort my baby which tests showed a less than 5% chance of Down syndrome—she is now 9, diganosed with Down syndrome, and we all (6 siblings) love and adore her with all our heart!! 

  • Ahawkins77

    This article left me profoundly sad. How can a mother and father say publicly that they would have killed their daughter in utero had they known she had Downs Syndrome, when they have already had 4 years to love her? I can’t imagine knowing in my heart that my parents would have killed me in utero had they known I was “less than perfect”. Aren’t we all “Less than perfect”? What’s next? The mothre and father who decides to kill their child in utero because they want the perfect blonde and blue eyed baby but through testing they find their child is  “less than perfect” with brown eyes and hair?

  • AK

    Many women would gladly adopt her!

  • This is crazy – that couple did not deserve the $3 million!  That doctor did no wrong.  Life is precious!

  • markeyjoe

    The next HHS mandate will be infanticide, you watch.