The Iowa Supreme Court rules parents can sue a doctor for failing to tell them their child may be born with a birth defect so the mother could have an abortion.
Pamela Plowman and Jeremy Plowman sued after their son was born in Fort Madison who developed several medical issues, including cerebral palsy.
An ultrasound taken prior to the child’s birth showed an abnormal growth of its head, but the Plowman’s were never told about any problems. Pamela Plowman sued saying she “would have terminated her pregnancy” if she had know of the issues. She seeks payment for the cost of raising the child, mental anguish and loss of income. Her former husband filed a similar lawsuit.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled the right to sue for wrongful birth belongs to parents “who were denied the opportunity to make an informed choice whether to lawfully terminate a pregnancy in Iowa. It is not this court’s role to second-guess that intensely personal and difficult decision.” The opinion says 23 states recognize wrongful-birth claims.
Justice Edward Mansfield was the only vote against the ruling. He wrote a dissenting opinion which says the decision is limited to a “severely disabled child” — but says the court does not define the term, and asks “what happens if testing indicates the child will be born blind or without a hand?” Mansfield says the court’s decision also opens up the possibility for other claims.
Manfield also says an “honest appraisal of the legislature’s Iowa Code section 146A.1 would find that it is intended to discourage, not encourage, abortions. The statute sets forth prerequisites for abortion only, not for carrying a pregnancy to term. It requires some creativity to read section 146A.1 as support for the new cause of action the court establishes today.”
Here’s the ruling” Baby Medical ruling PDF