NRL News

What’s airing on Pro-Life Perspective Today? “Oregon Parents Win Wrongful Birth Lawsuit”

by | May 16, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

NRLC President Carol Tobias

National Right to Life President and Pro-Life Perspective Host Carol Tobias talks today about a “wrongful birth” lawsuit won by the parents of Kalanit Levy. Ariel and Deborah Levy were awarded $2.9 million. Kalanit, now four years old, has Down syndrome.

The couple prevailed quickly, after arguing that Mrs. Levy would have aborted  Kalanit had she known her daughter had the chromosomal abnormality. According to newspaper accounts, “The couple nodded and mouthed ‘thank you’ as jurors filed out of the courtroom. A few nodded back, smiled or reached out a hand toward the Levys. One juror visibly held back tears. Another wished them peace.”

This is not the customary wrongful birth suit, at least in a couple of ways, as Mrs. Tobias points out. For example, Kalanit’s “chromosomal profile” was normal, the Legacy’s Center for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in North Portland said in court. Legacy’s attorney, Robert Keating, called on experts who said the chorionic villus sampling (CVS) tests were properly conducted. The normal genetic profile was because Kalanit has mosiac Down syndrome — meaning a significant number of her cells don’t contain an extra 21st chromosome.

However, the Portland, Oregon, jury was un-persuaded. According to newspaper accounts, the parents argued Legacy should have conducted further tests.

“Bioethicist Arthur Caplan, hardly a pro-life advocate, made several key observations in a column that ran just before the verdict was delivered,” Mrs. Tobias explains at

Several surprising key points from Caplan’s column include:

a. Wrongful birth lawsuits “risk leaving their other children (the Levys have two sons) wondering if their parents really wanted them.”

b. “Wrongful birth lawsuits are a horrible way to deal with failed prenatal testing.”

c.  “Forcing parents to argue that their child never should have been born may make legal sense but it is morally absurd.”

d. “Why ask parents to reject the existence of their own child? Who can really put a value on a life that some argue in court ought not exist?”

A case like Kalanit’s shows what Roe v. Wade has spawned. “Unborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome – as many as 90% according to some estimates – are aborted,” Mrs. Tobias says. “We need to continue our work to see that every human life is respected and protected.”

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