Wrongful Birth Claims And Wrongful Life Claims

Wrongful birth claims and wrongful life claims are medical malpractice claims arising out of the allegation that the parents were negligently deprived of the opportunity to avoid a pregnancy or to terminate a pregnancy, usually involving a deformed fetus or a fetus with a severe medical condition, because their doctor or another health care provider failed to timely and appropriately advise the parents.

What’s The Difference Between A Wrongful Birth Claim And A Wrongful Life Claim?

The difference between a wrongful birth claim and a wrongful life claim is that a wrongful birth claim seeks damages for the parents’ costs of raising a child born with deformities or severe medical conditions whereas in a wrongful life claim, the child seeks damages for being born with deformities or severe medical conditions rather than not being born.

What’s The Reasoning For Allowing Wrongful Birth Claims?

Maryland recognizes wrongful birth claims because “when prospective parents, relying on the negligent act or omission of a health care professional, elect to continue a pregnancy that they otherwise would have lawfully terminated and, as a result, are burdened with the cost and expense of raising a child with a serious genetic or other physical or mental defect, they have been injured and have a right to seek damages for that injury from the person whose negligence led to the injury. That right is a matter of important public policy in this State, flowing not only from this Court’s considered view but as well from statute. See Maryland Code, § 20-209 (b), of the Health General Article, precluding the State from interfering with the decision of a woman to terminate her pregnancy at any time during the pregnancy if the fetus is affected by genetic defect or serious deformity or abnormality.” Reed v. Campagnolo, 332 Md. 226, 630 A.2d 1145 (1993).

What’s The Reasoning For Disallowing Wrongful Life Claims?

Maryland does not recognize the premise that life itself, even in an impaired state, is an injury and therefore does not recognize a negligence action by a child against the mother’s obstetrician where the only effect of the alleged negligence was non-termination of the pregnancy and the birth of the child.

In disallowing wrongful life claims in Maryland, the Maryland courts have stated,”We align ourselves with the majority view and hold that, for purposes of tort law, an impaired life is not worse than non-life, and, for that reason, life is not, and cannot be, an injury.” Millicent Kassama, Individually, et al. v. Aaron H. Magat, et al., 368 Md. 113 (2002).

What’s Arizona Trying To Do?

On March 6, 2012, the Arizona Senate voted 20 to 9 on a bill that would outlaw wrongful birth cases in Arizona. The proposal now moves to the Arizona House for its consideration. If the bill becomes law in Arizona, Arizona would become the tenth state in the U.S. to outlaw both wrongful birth and wrongful life claims.


There is an overlap between the abortion debate in the U.S. and attitudes toward wrongful birth claims because one of the requirements for a wrongful birth claim is that the pregnancy would have been terminated had the parents been timely provided the information regarding their fetus’ deformity or severe medical condition. Therefore, because people who feel strongly that abortions should not be allowed under any circumstance would likely be against the right to bring a wrongful birth lawsuit under any circumstance.

If you or someone you care about may have the basis for bringing a wrongful birth claim or a wrongful life claim, the timely advice of a medical malpractice attorney would be important.

Click here to visit our website  to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to advise you regarding your possible wrongful birth or wrongful life claim and bring such a claim on your behalf, if appropriate. In the alternative, please feel free to call us on our toll free line at 800-295-3959.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, March 17th, 2012 at 12:38 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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