Parents Sue Hospital for Wrongful Birth of Their Down Syndrome Daughter

pregnantA $2.9 million payout for the "wrongful birth" of their little girl is sure to land Ariel and Deborah Levy right in the middle of the hottest parenting debates of all time. But the argument over abortion and the Oregon couple's right to know that their child had Down syndrome that will play out in the press over the next few weeks shouldn't overshadow the giant heads up this lawsuit has given every pregnant woman or would-be parent in America. Do you know what your doctor is up to?

Because the Levys didn't. They trusted Legacy Health System ... the way so many of us blindly trust that the people in the white coats care as much about the well being of our growing bellies as we do. And this was not some case of a test that may or may not have been 100 percent accurate failing to show fetal abnormalities.

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The jury's decision to give the couple such a substantial sum came after court documents showed as much as five major mistakes, from Deborah's doctor taking an incorrect tissue sample to the lab screwing up analysis.

That means we can shelve the abortion debate right now folks. This is really about malpractice allegations. It's about being a pregnant woman who depends on health care workers doing their jobs right to plan for the future: whatever that future entails.

I don't know what I would do if I were pregnant and a test showed a fetal abnormality. I am blessed enough to never have been put in that position. But either way, a big part of pregnancy is preparation. We get ready for the baby. We set aside money and line up caregivers. We try to do what's going to be best for our family, best for the little person growing inside of us.

Can you imagine sticking with a doctor if you knew flat out that they were just phoning it in? That they really didn't care whether you knew everything about what was going on with your body or not? Me neither. I was one of those voracious readers during pregnancy, and I peppered my OB/GYN with questions. I wanted to know EVERYTHING because I wanted to be ready.

When a doctor isn't making sure they're doing everything they can to give parents critical information -- whether it's something that would have guided parents like the Levys to abort or the diagnosis of a heart condition that enabled my friend Nicole to have in utero surgery to save her son -- they can't prepare. No preparation means everyone suffers.

Even the Levys -- who have two older sons -- say they love and adore their little girl now that she's here, but the money from their lawsuit is going to be used to pay for her care. That's a pretty big deal, especially for parents of special needs kids who often encounter substantial medical bills in addition to the worry of providing for their kids even after they're gone, because the children won't be able to provide for themselves.

Finding a good caregiver during your pregnancy means finding someone who will tell you everything you need to know. EVERYTHING. What you do after that is up to you -- it's your body, your choice. But a good practitioner is the one who makes sure you can make that choice.

What kind of research have you done into your doctor or midwife to make sure they're the right fit?


Image via tofslie/Flickr

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