Anti-abortion commentators are expressing outrage over a recent lawsuit that highlights the unique role of disability in the abortion debate.
Colleen Abbott and John Abbott were expecting their second child in November 2009. After initially begin told that the fetus was a girl, a sonogram showed that it likely had an intersex condition, as well as a variety of other potential disabilities, as described in the Daily Beast.
As a result, Colleen decided to have an abortion. One day later, the hospital informed her that the sonogram was wrong and that the fetus likely would have been healthy.
The Abbots sued the lab, the hospital, her doctors and genetic counselor. A jury found that the lab and its director were negligent, but declined to award the Abbots any damages for their physical or emotional injuries. An appeals court upheld the verdict in February.
In a new lawsuit, the Abbots claim they should be compensated under the theory of “wrongful abortion,” on the basis that they would not have undergone the abortion but for the hospital’s negligence.
“They gave her a choice: Abort the baby or take the chance of having a monster,” David Johns, the family’s lawyer, told the Daily Beast.
The lawsuit can be distinguished from more commonly known wrongful birth lawsuits. In wrongful birth lawsuits, parents seek compensation for the cost of having to raise a child with a disability, on the basis that they would have aborted the fetus if they had known that it would have been born with a disability. In wrongful abortion lawsuits, parents similarly seek compensation for misinformation provided by hospitals, but the fetus has already been aborted.
Anti-abortion activists, as well as many disability activists who have not expressed a public stance for or against abortion rights, have argued that the lawsuits devalue the lives of people with disabilities.
The Daily Beast highlights other examples of such lawsuits in the feature, which can be read here.