Wrongful Life / Damages Debate Assessment

Excerpt from Assessment :

It must be considered, as well, that genetic testing is a somewhat newer thing and the results can be skewed; so even if a doctor did do a test and results came up negative, there is a chance something could have been positive. Is the doctor responsible for the fact that the test didn't find any genetic problems? It would be absolutely nonsensical to think that the doctor should be punished for not detecting problems. It is also incredibly unfair.

When two people decide to have children, they are basically assuming all responsibilities and they should be aware that giving birth to a child means knowing that there are certain risks involved. There is this question to be considered: If an aborted child cannot sue for wrongful death, how can anyone sue for wrongful life?

What will happen, if we aren't careful, is that doctors will become very wary of doing their jobs in fear of being slapped with a lawsuit. This will have a negative effect on society. We may be losing good doctors or dissuading potentially good doctors in the field of medicine because they are afraid of wrongful life lawsuits. This does not do society any great service. By making doctors afraid to do testing, give recommendations or perform other types of procedures, we would be making a health care system that is based on not being sued rather than being based on giving the best care possible to patients. Doesn't the occasional birth of a child with birth defects or a baby that can be put up for adoption and bring joy to another family outweigh the other scary reality: a situation where doctors only do certain tests and they only follow protocol with the end result of not being sued as their motive. What then happens to bedside manner? What happens to a genuine care of patients? This is not the way that people should want health care to go. It's scary to imagine a system where a woman has difficulty finding prenatal care. She may have to travel far and wide to find a physician who wants to see her simply because of the risk that the doctor could be sued for failing to do something or what somebody else things that they should have done.

Punishing true negligence loses its importance when people are able to sue for outcomes that are unplanned and not the fault of doctors -- but of nature. All we can hope for in our health care system is that we have doctors who are making strong, well-informed decisions with the care of the mother and the unborn baby in mind. An analogy: If, for instance, a person were to get in a car crash and they rushed to the emergency room where doctors did everything in their power to save his or her life, yet when the person was recovering, he or she found out that they were now paralyzed from the waist down, should they be able to sue the doctors for saving his or her life? The patient not might like the idea of now having to live in a wheelchair and he or she may wish that the doctor had simply let them die. Should the doctors not have done everything in their power to save the person? Should they have stopped and considered that perhaps this person would rather die than not walk again? The question seems absolutely absurd. In life, there are un-perfect consequences of simply being alive and being a human being who is essentially a product of nature. Sometimes consequences are out of doctors' hands. They cannot be expected to be some type of superhero -- or, perhaps more aptly put -- God.

There is no over-stressing the responsibility of the
...Sure, they have the right to be disappointed, but their disappointment should not be fed and then softened by the fact that they can get some money from doctors. Many parents look at a child with "defects" as a burden. They do not want to deal with the trouble of having a child with, say, Down's Syndrome. They imagine all of the hassle with rearing and educating. For many, it is just too much to take on. The parents may consider the child and worry for him or her, but the truth is that even children who are born with genetics issues can have a fulfilling life. Just because they are not perfect does not mean that their life is any less important than a child who is apparently perfect. This again sends an awful message to society; it seems to imply that only people who are free from any kind of defects are the kind of people who should be living on this planet. This brings us to the topic of eugenics.

Eugenics is the belief that we can improve the qualities of the human species by discouraging reproduction by people who have genetics defects or other undesirable traits. Eugenics is an evil way of thinking and it conjures up certain ideas that are associated with Nazi Germany. Eugenics makes us think of Hitler and his enforced racial hygiene, human experimentation and extermination. While wrongful life suits don't make parents into Hitlers, there is the same kernel of thought -- and that is that anything less than what our society says is acceptable in a human being is not good enough and thus must be either slashed out of the human race or must be used as a means to get compensation. We must have children who are clean and who can make us proud. How could a parent ever be proud of a child with a genetic problem? While this may not be the most vital question at hand, the questions associated with wrongful life bring up many of the same moral questions as those related to ethnic cleansing and extermination.

The idea that a parent can go into a courtroom and argue about the fact that they were not given the right or the chance to kill their child and then want money on top of it is horrendous. This idea reflects the deterioration of our society as a whole. In what other times would it have been possible -- and okay -- to do this? In a way, it is nonsensical to talk about the notion that children with disabilities are special people because we should be coming from the perspective that all children are special. The human life is special -- without or with disabilities. How can we possibly ask the court to put a price or a certain amount of worth on a child? When parents get to sue for the life of their child and then keep the money that has been recovered because of that child's life does not make any sense. Any person who does this should not be allowed to have the child. If the child is so much of a burden or an embarrassment, then why not just put the child up for adoption? The amount of emotional scarring this could do to a child is huge. Any person who would do this does not deserve to be a parent.

Simply because we now have genetic testing, this does not make it okay to start suing doctors for the babies that we end up with. Could this have happened one hundred and fifty years ago? How about fifty years ago? The answer is no because those kinds of tests didn't exist. As mentioned, they are still not 100% reliable. Doctors were never held 100% responsible for the "kind" of child that parents had. Doctors are a luxury these days in that they can help the mother along the way. They can track the growth of the fetus, they can tell the sex of the child, they can give drugs during the birthing process. They can do many things that make the childbirth process easier for the mother. What they cannot do is be some sort of God who can make sure that parents have a completely perfect child. This is up to nature -- and God, if you want to believe in that.

Giving parents the legal right to sue doctors for their imperfect child is simply ridiculous. Imperfections can be viewed as many. Imperfections can be Down's Syndrome or cerebral palsy, or they can be ADD or asthma. Where…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bayles, Michael D. (1975). Harm to the unconceived. Kalamazoo College -- Western

Michigan University Conference in Philosophy of Law.

Doerr, Adam. (2009). The 'wrongful life' debate. Genonomics Law Report. Retrieved on September 1, 2010, from the Website:


Cite This Assessment:

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