Ohio Supreme Court Rules On Genetic-Screening Failure

healthfinder.gov, Jun 16, 2006

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Friday that parents can sue doctors if genetic screening fails to detect a serious or fatal condition that would have prompted the parents to seek an abortion.

In the 4-3 decision, the court ruled that rewards in such lawsuits would be limited to the costs associated with the pregnancy and the birth of the child. Parents would not be able to sue for damages associated with pain and suffering or for repayment of the expense of raising a disabled child, the Associated Press reported.

The case involved a Kentucky couple, Richard and Helen Schirmer, who sued a Cincinnati obstetrics practice and hospital that provided genetic counseling for the couple. The Schirmers were told the fetus did not have a genetic disorder carried by Helen Schirmer. However, their son was born with the disorder and can't speak or crawl. The son is now 8 years old.

The state Supreme Court ruling is a partial victory for the Schirmers. The court's decision overruled a lower court ruling that the Schirmers could sue for the cost of raising their son, the AP reported.

This is the first time that Ohio's justices have made a definitive ruling on a claim of "wrongful birth."

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