Couple receives $3 million in “wrongful birth” case

A 12-person jury awarded a Portland-based couple $3 million on March 9, finding that Oregon’s Legacy Health hospital negligently failed to detect their child’s Down Syndrome prior to her birth.

The $3 million figure is the estimated lifetime extra costs the family will need to support their daughter, “who professionals say will probably never be able to live independently or support herself,” according to an article in the Oregonian.

“This has always been only about providing for their daughter and making her life the best that they can make it,” said David K. Miller, the Portland attorney who represented the couple, Deborah and Ariel Levy, at the Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland.

In 2006, 13 weeks into Deborah’s pregnancy, the couple paid $2,500 for a prenatal test called chorionic villus sampling, or CVS for short. The test came back normal.

Despite signs of abnormalities that sometimes indicate Down Syndrome in two subsequent ultrasounds, the hospital reassured the Levys that the child did not have Down Syndrome.

Deborah said that if Down Syndrome had been detected, she would have had an abortion.

More than 89 percent of expectant mothers who learn that their child will have Down Syndrome have an abortion, according to studies cited in the Oregonian article.

The case, which received international attention, sparked controversy among disability advocates, bioethicists, and anti-abortion rights groups, among others. For more reactions to this story, read here.