07
Jun 17

Iowa Physicians Supreme Court Allows Suit for Wrongful Birth

Pamela and Jeremy Plowman, now divorced, filed separate wrongful birth lawsuits seeking damages because their son was born with ‘several medical issues, including cerebral palsy’.  (Medically savvy readers would immediately note that cerebral palsy often results from complications during childbirth, rather than something observable prenatally.)  A perusal of the court decision reveals claims that the child has a small corpus callosum, microcephaly, seizure disorder, does not walk, and is non-verbal. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of the appellants, noting that 23 other states allow such lawsuits.  The suit specifically addresses damages to the parents resulting from the wrongful birth, and does not seek compensation to address the medical issues of their child.

There is a way for health care providers in Iowa to address this problem.  In 2002, the courts came to a similar conclusion in France, resulting in a prompt response by physicians refusing to order ultrasounds to pregnant women.   A law to protect physicians from damages if they were unable to diagnose a prenatal disability was very quickly passed.  Even doctors who don’t disagree with killing the disabled could get on board with this action, since ultrasounds are far from infallible.  Many false positive and false negative diagnoses result from the imperfect technology currently at hand. The current situation in Iowa will cost the lives of many babies with disabilities, as well as those who have no such difficulties, as health care providers  increasingly recommend abortion to save themselves from this added liability.