This past March 30, 2017, the French administrative court in Limoges examined the case of a couple who gave birth to a child with Down’s syndrome in 2010. The parents accuse the doctor for not diagnosing their child’s handicap.
Pregnant with her third child, a mother had the Down’s syndrome screening test performed at 14 weeks of amenorrhea. She also had a sonogram performed to measure nuchal translucency, as the High Health Authority in France has recommended since 2007. Since these test results demonstrated a fairly high risk of Down’s syndrome, her gynecologist prescribed an amniocentesis at the Limoges hospital.
The doctor in Limoges who cared for the patient, re-calculated the data, and deemed it was unnecessary to have an amniocentesis performed, especially since it is an invasive procedure which could lead to miscarriage in 1% of the cases.
During the hearing last March 30th, the reporting judge suggested to the administrative court to sentence the hospital to pay a fine of: 50,000 € to the mother and 30,000 € to the father, taking into account « the moral suffering of not being prepared for the birth of a handicapped child, added to the lack of choice to abord for the plaintiff. Also mentioned are the problems in the family’s living conditions due to the impact this situation has on their family and social life.”
The health center’s lawyer affirms that « the medical center empathizes with the parents’ suffering; but requests for the incident to not be qualified as gross negligence by the court, but as simple negligence given the debate on the methodological analysis and in the difficulty of the calculation. “
The Court should render its decision within the next 15 days.
Dr. Xavier Mirabel, Alliance VITA’s Medical Advisor :
« At least in this case, the plaintiffs did not evoke ‘the prejudice of being born’ which was especially appalling in the Perruche case.
Of course the birth of a child suffering from a disability weighs heavily on families. French solidarity programs propose many different subsidies. If some people judge that these subsidies are insufficient, the real solution would be to fight to increase subsidies for all those entitled. Nevertheless, isn’t it shocking that, under the assumption that a disability could have been detected in-utero, which could have led to an abortion, these families receive more aid than those with children having disabilities that could not be detected before birth?
As far as « losing the opportunity to abort », how can this not be interpreted as an extremely violent declaration?