Why Wrongful Birth Lawsuits Should Be Taken Seriously
I’ve read a couple of news articles recently about parents suing for “wrongful birth” of severely disabled children. Parents of children born without appendages, limbs, or even having severe mental and/or other physical handicaps have sued medical staff for allowing their children to be born instead of advising them accordingly to terminate the pregnancy. Unfortunately, these cases have all been thrown out of court, even though I think they have legitimate complaints.
What I don’t think is happening in these cases is that the judges and/or juries are not putting themselves in the shoes of a severely disabled person. By law they must all be of sound mind, so they can’t understand mental handicaps. Some of them may be able to understand some degree of physical handicap, but not to the level many of these children are handicapped. When you think to yourself “would *I* want to live like that” I’d have to think that any reasonable person would say “no, I would not.” I know I sure as hell wouldn’t, and I don’t know anyone who would either.
That said, I think it goes even further than that. I think if anyone, for whatever reason, thinks their quality of life is so poor that it’s in general not worth living, they should be able to sue not only the attending medical staff, but also their parents. After all, life was forced upon them by their parents and had it not been for them doing the nasty and conceiving, they wouldn’t have had to endure the pain and suffering that awaited them in an earthly life. It kind of goes back to what David Benatar said about being born:
“Each one of us was harmed by being brought into existence. That harm is not negligible, because the quality of even the best lives is very bad—and considerably worse than most people recognize it to be. Although it is obviously too late to prevent our own existence, it is not too late to prevent the existence of future possible people.”
“We infrequently contemplate the harms that await any new-born child—pain, disappointment, anxiety, grief, and death. For any given child we cannot predict what form these harms will take or how severe they will be, but we can be sure that at least some of them will occur. None of this befalls the nonexistent. Only existers suffer harm.”
When you think of it that way, it’s pretty easy to conclude that in everyone’s case, birth was wrongful. I understand that would open up a whole new can of worms, but at the same time, let’s face it, life’s rough. I think it’s very legitimate to sue your parents and/or the attending medical staff for the pain and suffering that befalls you due to being born (for had you never been born, you’d have never had to endure pain and suffering). So, yes, your pain and suffering is entirely their fault, and you should be entitled to compensation. I also think you should be entitled to the right to end your life without the state intervening and throwing you into a loony bin and shoving medicine down your throat if you try, but I’ll save that for another day.
So, yeah. Wrongful birth is, in my mind, a completely legitimate complaint for anyone, but especially for the severely disabled. That’s just no way to live, and anyone who is reasonable should be able to agree with that statement.