German Court Rejects Wrongful Birth Lawsuit

Karlsruhe, Germany - The Federal Court in Karlsruhe, Germany, has rejected financial claims from parents who were demanding compensation for the rearing of their handicapped child.

The parents brought the case against their gynaecologists after malformations of one twin was not diagnosed during pregnancy. An abortion was therefore never discussed beween doctors and parents. One of the identical girl twins was born without one leg and has severe handicaps to the other leg and to one arm. She is now dependent on a wheelchair, whereas the other twin was healthy at birth and has remained so.

The parents said that the doctors should have been able to recognise the malformations during ultrasound examinations. They argued that, had they known about the handicaps they would have decided on an abortion because the birth of a handicapped child would have put the mother at risk of severe depression. She had already had psychological treatment.

This would agree with the current so-called "social medical indication" of the German abortion law from 1995, which weighs the unborn child's right to live against the psychological and medical damage to the mother from continuing the pregnancy.

The judges in Karslruhe said, however, that an abortion of the handicapped twin would have been illegal because it would have most likely led either to the death of the other healthy twin or to severe injuries. Only an expectation of very severe handicaps in one twin or an extreme and exceptional situation of the mother could have justified the abortion of one handicapped twin and the threatened death of the healthy one, they argued. Therefore, financial compensation should not be awarded.

Pro-Life Infonet
18. desember 2001