Saturday, December 18, 2010

North Dakota Supreme Court rejects parents claim of "wrongful life" for child with Down syndrome

From Medical News Today:

The North Dakota Supreme Court on Dec. 14 ruled that state law does not allow a child to make a claim for "wrongful life," whether the claim is brought by the child or on behalf of the child, BNA reports.

The case involved parents of a child with Down syndrome who argued they would have ended the pregnancy if they had been advised of the genetic abnormality. The court ruled that the parents and their child are not entitled to recover damages from the hospital and physicians who allegedly failed to detect the abnormality that leads to Down syndrome.

To assess the couple's claim, the court examined a North Dakota law stating that no person may make a claim for damages "based on the claim that, but for the act or omission of another, that person would have been aborted." The parents argued that although the statute prohibits claims by a person "on that person's own behalf," the law does not prohibit such claims brought by others on the child's behalf. However, the court ruled that the couple's "interpretation unreasonably construes the phrase 'on that person's own behalf' and ignores other language" in the law.

The court also rejected the parents' claim for wrongful birth, ruling that even if the action were allowed under state law, the two-year statute of limitations for malpractice actions against the hospital and physicians had expired (Sturges, BNA, 12/10).