State Supreme Court Says Boy's Life Not "Wrongful"
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 21, 2004
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA--The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that a woman was not entitled to file a "wrongful life" lawsuit over the birth of her son who has mental disabilities.
According to the Associated Press, Jennie Willis sued on behalf of her son, Thomas, who is now 8 years old and has a condition known as maximal hydrocephalus. She claimed that her obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Donald S. Wu, did not tell her that the child would be born with disabilities early enough in her pregnancy for her to have an abortion. South Carolina law does not allow abortions after 24 weeks into the pregnancy.
Wu, on the other hand, said that he did inform Willis at 22 months of a potential problem and ordered a test by a fetal specialist. Willis refused to go, Wu said.
Willis' attorney, O. Fayrell Furr Jr., described the child's life as dismal.
"This child cannot feel love; this child cannot express love," Furr said. "He has enough brain tissue to keep him alive but not enough to know his mother exists . . . She would not want her child to . . . live that existence."
The court said that while it recognized the "extremely severe nature" of the boy's disability, it could not accept that his life was "wrongful".
"Even a jury collectively imbued with the wisdom of Solomon would be unable to weigh the fact of being born with a defective condition against the fact of not being born at all," Associate Justice E.C. Burnett wrote in the court's decision. "It is simply beyond the human experience."
Willis has filed a separate suit against Wu claiming he failed to inform her about her son's disability. A trial on that case is scheduled for next May.
"S.C. Supreme Court rejects "wrongful life" claim" (Associated Press via Beaufort Gazette)