In the realm of public policy we report on the good, the bad, and the ugly. That said, in recent years, we’re reporting on issues that go far beyond simply being bad, and routinely stray into the realm of the ludicrous and the bizarre. Today, I was planning on reporting on a story out of England where teenagers were given a survey in school that asked them their gender, So far so good. It’s a fairly easy question, most student would check male, or female – but not on this survey. Parents went ballistic when they found out that the survey listed 25 different options -everything from androgynous, to gender fluid, to demiboy or demigirl. We’ll place this story under the category of bizarre and say that the outcry from the parents was so strong that the survey was withdrawn, but I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the end of it yet.
That said, today’s blog will fall under the heading of incredibly sad. It comes to us from Gardner, Montana and we first reported on it nearly three years ago. It’s the case of a mother suing Livingston Health Care for wrongful life. Yes, you read that correctly. Most of us are familiar with the concept of wrongful death (the death of a human being as a result of a wrongful act of another person); this case is just the opposite. The plaintiff is claiming wrongful life, which the life of a human being resulting from the wrongful act or negligence of another person. The mother is claiming that Livingston Health Care failed to perform a test while she was pregnant which would have shown that her daughter had cystic fibrosis. Had the plaintiff known about the birth defect, she said that she would have had an abortion.
When the Montana Family Foundation first learned of this case in late 2012 we quickly drafted a bill to prevent anymore wrongful life lawsuits. House bill 310 passed both the House and Senate and was allowed to become law by Governor Bullock without his signature. It was a tough place for the Governor to be. On one side, he faced a very popular bill that everyone wanted. On the other side were his supporters at Planned Parenthood who wanted the bill to die. In the end, the Governor did the right thing.
The bill specifically says “a cause of action or award of damages is prohibited if the cause of action is based on the claim that, but for the conduct of the healthcare provider, a parent would not have been permitted a child to have been born.”
As I said, this case is incredibly sad on so many levels. We have a mother telling the whole world that she would have aborted her daughter had she known of the defect. On the other hand we have a daughter and everyone else with cystic fibrosis being told that their life is somehow not worth living because of their infirmity. Tell that to people like pianist and composer Fredric Chopin, or 11 time Ironman Triathlon winner Lisa Bentley, or NCAA Division II basketball player Nolan Gottlieb – all of whom had cystic fibrosis and all of whom contributed to the betterment of society.
No matter how this case turns out, I think there are two main takeaways. The first is that legalizing abortion was indeed a slippery slope opening the door to abortion on demand simply because a child is not perfect. The second, and equally important, is that all life is valuable and people should not be allowed to cut someone else’s life short simply because they consider them an inconvenience. What if Chopin’s parents had genetic testing and abortion available to them? It’s a question worth asking.