Couple Sues Docs who said Child Wouldn't Have Down Syndrome

Portalnd Couple Sues Over Down Syndrome Mistake

Maybe I’m a monster, but if the tests were screwed up, I can totally see filing a lawsuit against the labs and doctors who told me that there would be no Down Syndrome, because that would totally be a circumstance when I would abort.

It would be different if they said “no Downs” and the baby had something else wrong, but in a case like this, I could see some sort of compensation being due. I don’t think an argument could be made that the parent accepted the risk, since they clearly sought to mitigate that risk, but the professionals screwed up, and clearly stated that a risk of Downs was absent.

I’m still not sure though - what are your thoughts on this?

If (as the suit alleges) I had reason to believe that the lab screwed up, and that the doctor ignored other red flags because of the lab findings, bet your ass I’d sue the everloving fuck out of them.

It looks like Arizona is trying to be proactive on this one.

I dont want to be a bitch, but let’s not drag this into an abortion debate, except as it relates to this case. Talking about aborting a disabled fetus is fine, but addressing an attempt to prevent it through legislation is a little far afield, IMO.

Sorry-I wasn’t trying to hijack. I just wanted to point out that the law would also ban “wrongful birth” suits like the one the OP asks about. The doctor can then use as a defense “Well I wouldn’t have told you anyway even if I had the correct results”.

Depends. The test is 99.7% accurate, according to the linked article. That means even if you do every single thing absolutely perfectly, out of every 1000 tests performed, 3 of them are going give you the wrong results. It’s entirely possible these folks are just one of those miserably unlucky 3 in a thousand. In which case, that sucks for them, but it’s no more the doctor’s or lab’s fault than it’s my gynecologist’s fault if I’m one of the three in a thousand women who get pregnant this year while using a Mirena. You cover your bases the best you can, but ultimately you pays your money and you takes your chances.

If there’s some real evidence that the sample was taken incorrectly, as the plaintiff claims happened in this case, or that the lab performed the test incorrectly, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Although in all honesty without the original sample to re-test, I don’t for the life of me see how they could really show that the sample was the mother’s tissue and not the baby’s.

Tangentially, I hope they put their kid up for adoption (unless they’ve had a change of heart since it was born). I can’t think of a worse environment for a disabled child to be brought up in, than one where the parents resent its very existence. Reminds me of the boy in my sister’s grade with Down’s Syndrome. He was one year behind me, and we rode the same bus. His mom would walk him from the house to the bus with the phone glued to her ear every single day, like she could not spare 2 minutes of time to spend with him alone and wish him a good day. It was sad.

One of my old co-workers had two children with Downs, and she was the very best parent I could imagine. I was always so amazed with her patience and love, but I also realized there was no friggen way in hell that I could manage to do the same.

If the doctor screwed up, then hell yes I would sue - parents have to be honest about what they can deal with, and that’s something they didn’t think they could handle.

If there wasn’t a mistake, then I’m with CrazyCatLady - you can’t ever be 100% certain, and that’s just life. Mourn the loss of what you thought would be, put the child up for adoption by a family that can handle the situation and try to move on. Life doesn’t owe you anything in recompense for serving up a situation that you didn’t want.

Having no idea what life is like for this family, I wouldn’t say that. The parents do know that they would have had an abortion if they’d gotten the correct test results and that they believe they are spending tons of extra time, energy, and money because of the results they were given. That doesn’t mean they resent their child; it means they resent having made a choice based on incorrect information and being unprepared for what has happened. If you assume for the sake of argument that their estimate about her medical costs is accurate, I can easily imagine resenting $3 million in medical care I didn’t expect to have to pay for.

That being said, I don’t know if they have a case. These tests are not perfect even if they are run it properly, so unless something was actually done incorrectly, it’s just bad luck.

Even though the couple may have aborted if given the chance, we know nothing else about this couple (other than the article which says they love her dearly), so I’d give them the benefit of the doubt.

Regardless of how much you love your Downs baby, it’s undeniable that it has a huge impact on your life. My cousin has a child with Downs, and at 5 he is still showing no signs of talking, requires nappies and is in many respects still an infant - the comparison to my 2 year old in terms of independence is striking.

His grandparents have had to downsize their working hours (and retirement plans) to help care for him knowing that this care will be required for the rest of his life. He struggles with childcare which make it even harder for the mother (and grandparents) to hold full time jobs. I can see how $3m could get eaten up very quickly over their daughter’s life.

From the article it appears that they love their daughter and are invested in her reaching her highest potential. They said that they were inspired by a woman with Down’s syndrome who had taken some college courses and lectures. It looks like what they really want is to make a point and to make up for the extra money they will have to spend on their daughter. I am not sure that I agree with their right to sue unless it can be shown that there was gross negligence by the testing doctor or lab, but I wouldn’t recommend taking their daughter away.

Why is talking about aborting a fetus with a disabilty fine?!?! THAT is horrifing to me. You do know that mental disabilty is only a small percentage of disabilty, AND most mental disabilty has NO KNOWN etoilogy Most mental disabilty is akin to severe learning disabilty (mild, meaning they can and do learn, but they learn SLOWER then the average kid) Also, the functioning of kids with Downs varies HUGELY. Not every kid with Down’s Syndrome is severely mentally handicapped.

If they fell in love with the child after she was born, then of course I’m happy they decided to raise her. But if they feel embittered and obligated and decide to keep her anyway, well… there are many parents who could provide a better life than that. That’s all I meant.

There may be a degree of variance, but there is still a common set of specific challenges for people with Down’s Syndrome (like the average IQ of 50, as opposed to the average IQ of 100 for people without Down’s Syndrome). People with Down’s also have a strong tendency to have heart problems, gastrointestinal problems, thyroid problems, and problems with hearing and/or vision. Not to mention, the ability to live independently varies *wildly *between individuals. It’s impossible to know in advance if this child is going to be a person who can graduate high school and get married and have a job, or a person who will have to be cared for 24 hours a day for the rest of her life. It’s perfectly fair for a family to say, “We don’t feel up to that challenge, let’s try again.”

The decision to get tested and/or abort will also depend on how hard it was to get pregnant in the first place. If a woman has been trying to get pregnant for many months or years without success (or is nearing menopause), she’s more likely to want to keep the child, regardless of any potential abnormalities. Projecting myself into that situation, I would likely not even have the test done. But for a hypothetical younger woman who will be a single mom, doesn’t have family support or adequate finances, and is young enough that she can reasonably expect to get pregnant again in the future, it might make sense to her to abort a fetus with chromosomal abnormalities.

In any case, you shouldn’t judge another woman based solely on her decision to abort a pregnancy. You don’t know what it’s like to be in her shoes.

I guess the problem for parents is, when a disability is identified it can be a broad spectrum.

Most people have met and known high functioning downs syndrome and disabled people, who are happy, well adjusted, reasonably integrated members of society - most aren’t exposed to very low functioning though, these are profoundly disabled people who can have appalling quality of life and often have other health issues as well. Of course you’d love your child no matter what.

I knew a woman who had two children, the younger of whom was profoundly disabled. By the time her youngest was 7 she was faced with a heartbreaking decision, the child was completely disconnected and was getting stronger and more violent by the day. She needed to be put in care, which meant being institutionalised - just a devastating choice which was really no choice at all.

This woman ended up suiciding - an absolute tragedy, leaving the younger child in care and the older dealing with the loss of her mother.

This awful outcome made me really think about my fortitude and capabilities when I found out I was pregnant, I’d love to say that I would go through with it no matter what but the truth is that I don’t know what I would have done if there was a problem, I’m so glad that I didn’t have to make that decision.

I also know that these tests are not 100% accurate, unless they can prove negligence they’re pretty screwed, if it was negligence then it’s completely reasonable for them to be compensated for the additional cost of care.

That Arizona thing scares the shit out of me!

ETA - It took me 2+ years to get pregnant, lots of intervention, I’m 36 and I still got the non-invasive testing done and would seriously have considered my options if the results hadn’t been so favourable.

I’d like to point out a couple of things here:

  1. There is a claim that the test came out “normal” because it actually sampled mom’s cells instead of the baby’s. This is a known complication of CVS testing. The issue has been around since day one, it’s always a possibility, albeit a small one, and accounts for part of that 0.3% error rate in the testing. Sometimes it’s caught prior to birth – typically, when the fetus is obviously male and the test says he’s female so you know something’s amiss – but not always. This happens sometimes, and it’s not always due to incompetence.

  2. There is a counter-claim that the daughter has mosaic Down’s Syndrome. That means some of her cells have the extra chromosome and some don’t. This does happen in about 2% of people with Down’s Syndrome. The two cells types, however, are not evenly distributed throughout the body. It is entirely possible for cells to be “patchy”, so if you sampled from, say, the left forearm you might get nothing but normal cells and yet the right foot is only cells with the extra chromosome. If that is the case, the CVS could have been done perfectly and just have happened to sampled only normal baby cells and missed the Down’s entirely… which, accounts for part of that 0.3% error rate in the test.

  3. Further complicating this whole situation is the jacked-up medical and social safety net in the US. The extra burden of raising and caring for such a child gives parents an incentive to sue that doesn’t exist elsewhere. Just from the standpoint of medical costs, if this child was in, say, France or Germany her parents would have the insurance at least the physical problems would be attended to, as opposed to the US where if they didn’t have insurance the kid probably wouldn’t get the needed care to achieve her full potential unless she was actively dying, in which case the ER might help but the parents might well be left destitute. Hence the “we want 3 million to make sure she gets care and help over her lifetime”.

How about being shuffled from foster home to foster home? Or stashed in the modern equivalent of an orphanage? Or dumped in a hospital room and left in custody limbo?

Adoptive parents, by and large, want healthy infants. They don’t want disabled kids. The odds of a disabled child ever being adopted are damn close to zero.

You are quite wrong. There’s a fairly high demand for babies with Down Syndrome. The first link is to an NIH study about why people want to adopt kids with Down Syndrome, which states:

You are conflating infants put up for adoption with children that have been removed from their biological parents by the state. When someone chooses to put a baby up for adoption they work through a private agency. They sign over permanent custody to a family they have approved. The child is in no way exposed to the foster care system.

I never said there were NO parents willing to adopt Downs kids, and a couple of feel-good stories from (aside from the NIH one) biased sites doesn’t change that it’s much harder to place a disabled child than an able-bodied one.

How many parents want a kid with Downs?

How many parents want a healthy, non-disabled child?

I think you find the latter far exceeds the former.

Well, do you have better cites backing up your position?

I am sure there are fewer. I am not at all sure that their are fewer parents who want to adopt kids with Downs than there are kids with Downs, which is all that matters. If that’s your claim, you need to support it. There may not be many parents who want these kids, but there aren’t many of these kids, either.

You seemed to suggest that a parent who unexpectedly has a child with Downs and wants to give the child up for adoption will somehow condemn that child to a life of being bumped through the foster care system. There isn’t even a pathway between those two points: the foster care system is for children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned–children whose parents have committed crimes against them. Parents who chose to give up their children are not part of it.