Wrongful life and wrongful birth cases: a comparative approach
Brunetta d'Usseaux, Francesca
Parents may undergo tests in order to ascertain, before birth, whether their child will be born with defects or hereditary diseases: however, doctors may fail to perform them or misdiagnose their outcome. The consequence is often the birth of an impaired child, which automatically becomes the object of two different kinds of lawsuits. One is the wrongful birth lawsuit: the parents sue the physician for negligence; the other is the wrongful life lawsuit, which is brought by, or on behalf of, the disabled child himself, sometimes even against his own parents, for being obliged to live a life "he would have preferred not to live". In the first case, the liability of the physician or of the laboratories and the consequent acknowledgment of the right to compensation for damages is recognised both in common and in civil law. The right of the child to sue for prenatal torts and to recover damages for being born impaired is on the contrary much more troublesome: until recently only few American States had recognised wrongful life cases, as did the French Cour de Cassation last year, thus demonstrating a radical change in trend. Legal solutions are often contradictory: the contributions made by the different disciplines within the framework of such a delicate and complex issue must be carefully examined.
Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
III (2001) 1
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Francesca Brunetta d'Usseaux, "Wrongful life and wrongful birth cases: a comparative approach", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, III (2001) 1