Sep 24, 2011

Parents receive $4.5m after the parents ‘missed the chance’ to abort their disabled son.

A landmark legal case in Florida has set a worrying precedent for babies born with disabilities.

A court ruled that Rodolfo Santana and Ana Mejia should receive $4.5m after the parents ‘missed the chance’ to abort their disabled son.

Medical staff at the Palm Beaches did not give accurate information to Bryan Santana’s parents concerning his disability before he was born.

The couple, whose son has no arms and only one leg, argued that had they been told that Bryan would be born disabled, they would have aborted him.

Because they cannot legally terminate him now (he is 3 years old), Santana and Mejia requested compensation to the tune of $9m.

The jury agreed in principle but only awarded half the amount requested.

Speaking to the jury, the boy’s mother said: “Definitely, I would have had an abortion.”

Marc Sherman, a quadriplegic who is Program Director at AccessABILITY Center for Independent Living, said in response to the decision:

“A disability is just a natural part of life. A person with a disability has just as much worth and just as much as importance as anybody else. It doesn’t matter what kind of disability, they have just as much worth and importance. They should get to choose how they want to live.”

There are concerns that the court’s decision promotes the view that disabled lives are not worth as much as those born without disability.

In the UK, there is an upper time limit of 24 weeks for abortions except in the case of babies with disabilities. In these cases, abortions are permitted up to the point of birth.

In the US, 90% of babies with non-life threatening disabilities are aborted.

Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:

“This is a truly shocking decision from the court.

“It perpetuates the myth that life is not worth living if you have a disability and indicates a chillingly utilitarian view of personhood.

“Children are not commodities and we cannot dispose of them when they fail to meet our expectations, either in appearance or ability.

“It is time we return to the Biblical view of personhood: that our dignity and value do not come from ability but from the fact that we are each of us made in the image of God, disabled or not.

“This view safeguards life and prevents the callous and barbaric treatment of those born, or about to be born, with disabilities.”


Pajamas Media (blog)