Point/Counterpoint: An Argument with Myself about the Downs Syndrome Lawsuit,
If you haven’t heard yet, a couple in Portland, Oregon is suing their local hospital because the doctors identified their yet-to-be-born child as a fully healthy baby girl.
While this might seem like good news, it also turned out to be wrong; and the already concerned parents were using this test to decide whether or not to continue the pregnancy. Months later, after deciding to continue forward, their child was actually born with Down’s syndrome. And after four years of special care, they’re suing the test-takers at Legacy Health for 7 million dollars.
My first thought was one of abject horror. Here are two people who were lucky enough to have a child born out of love and into a good situation. I have more right complaining about the Charlie’s Angels reboots than they do about their offspring. There are no mulligans with a decision like that, and by blaming a hospital system for the birth of your “imperfect” child, you’re really just proving a lack of human decency and basic parental instinct.
I had the whole thing written in my mind. I would say that Lindsay Lohan had a better support system than their poor child, and I’d call the parents opportunistic trolls. If that didn’t ring hard enough, I’d write something like: these parents should have taken a test in-utero to find out they were total assholes.
Hell, I’d even pull at some heartstrings and talk about the joys of the imperfections you deal with. How one challenging day with a life you created is more important than 100 years of easy living and simple decisions. I’d even write that if you could get a refund on your kid, I’m sure they’d both be taken back after the first night.
I had it all there.
Then I started to think a little bit more.
First of all, I’m pro-choice. I believe it’s a couple and a woman’s right to choose what happens in their own relationship. All this tandem really wanted was the ability to make an educated decision that would affect them the rest of their lives. Maybe you shouldn’t be able to pick your child out of a catalog, but at the very least you should know the challenges you’ll face if you’re planning on being a parent.
Also, this little snafu could have some serious ramifications for the entire family, economically speaking.
Maybe they had thought about everything, and while they had the finances to take care of a human life, they didn’t have the funds for any unforeseen problems. Without speaking ill towards any person born with challenges, it would be naïve to not recognize the enormous financial burden it can become. Healthcare is not cheap and is often not covered by insurance. Special school, special education, extra time… it all adds up.
So maybe, instead of being greedy and opportunistic, this couple is really just trying to provide the life they want for their child. Maybe the 7 million dollars isn’t a punishment to the hospital for saddling them with this responsibility, but rather the only way they can think of to change their financial plans for their little girl. They do, after all, mention that now she is their entire world.
Look, there’s no easy answer here, and I’m sure I’ll get plenty of negative feedback for coming to their defense. But I can promise you that if the tables were turned I would want to know the exact same information.
While I hope to one day support multiple children, if it happened for me right now, and I knew it would cost the additional time and money that I just don’t have, I don’t know what decision I’d make. I’d like to say I’d keep it… but I’m not about to go on record for it.
We all know that any child is truly a blessing. There are some couples that will go their whole lives without ever getting the chance to be a parent. But that being said, let’s not be too quick to judge a couple that might be at the end of their rope, looking for some kind of way to provide a charmed life for their big surprise. It’s not like they’re looking for a return policy, just some money to help cover the exorbitant costs.
Believe me, I wanted to trash them too. I already had the ending written. But instead of my “I’d let a bear trap babysit before I’d let you write a note to my child” joke, I’ll just say this:
I hope that this money provides some comfort for you and your family, and a better life for your daughter.