NRL News

English woman awarded $360,000 in damages for “wrongful birth” of her son who has Down syndrome

by | Oct 9, 2019

By Dave Andrusko

Edyta Mordel (right) outside London’s High Court

A mother from Reading, England was awarded £200,000 ($363,000) in damages for the “wrongful birth” of her son Aleksander in January 2015. Edyta Mordel, 33, said she was not given the prenatal screening for Down syndrome as she had requested. Had she known her son would have Down syndrome, she would have aborted him.

The Daily Mail reported

The court heard that Ms. Mordel’s initially asked for a Down’s syndrome screening but when later asked by a sonographer if she wanted one she declined.

Therefore, a scan was carried out without a screening.

But in his ruling, Mr. Justice Jay said the sonographer who conducted the 12-week scan had failed to obtain her “informed consent” to go ahead without the Down syndrome screening.

It was noted in various accounts that English is the Polish-born Ms. Mordel’s second language.

Mordel, 33, sued the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, claiming, according to The Telegraph, that

she had asked for a screening and would have undergone further tests to confirm the diagnosis if it had detected signs of Down’s syndrome.

Both she and her partner, Lukasz Cieciura, said they would have had the baby aborted if they had known he would have the condition.

The hospital’s position was that Ms. Mordel had declined the initial test and later regretted her decision.

When she testified in July, Ms. Mordel said, “I knew someone from work with Down’s syndrome. I saw how difficult his life is and I would not have continued my pregnancy. I would not have wanted a disabled child, and I would not have wanted my child to suffer the way that disabled people suffer. I wouldn’t want to have brought my child into the world like that.”

In his ruling, Justice Jay said that at an appointment in June 2014, Ms. Mordel “had booked for all tests, including the initial screening for Down syndrome.”

However, when asked by a sonographer the following month if she wanted the screening, she said no.

The sonographer then carried out the rest of the scan without the initial test for Down’s syndrome.

Aleksander was diagnosed with the condition hours after his birth, and medical records noted his parents were “angry and upset.”

Justice Jay “found that Ms. Mordel had misunderstood the sonographer’s question when she replied ‘no’ after being asked if she wanted the test.”

By not querying Ms. Mordel’s apparent refusal to have the test, in light of her earlier indication that she wanted it, Justice Jay concluded that “both the sonographer and a midwife who conducted a follow-up appointment ‘failed to discharge their duty’ to Ms Mordel,” The Telegraph reported.

The sonographer “should have been expecting a ‘yes’ answer but instead she heard the opposite,” Justice Jay said. “Yet this, on my findings, prompted no further inquiry.”

Justice Jay insisted the verdict was no reflection on children with Down syndrome. According to the Daily Mail, he said

“Nothing I have said in this judgment should be interpreted as suggesting that the birth of a child with Down’s syndrome must be seen as unwelcome.

“Some parents have absolute ethical objections to termination of pregnancy, and for them the discussion begins and ends at that point.

“Other parents accept the possibility of having a baby with Down’s syndrome without a shred of concern or reluctance.

“The state expresses no judgments either way, but it is the policy of the NHS that Down’s screening must be offered to all expectant mothers, the premise being that many would wish to exercise their right to proceed to medical termination in the event of a diagnosis.

“These various wishes and decisions must be and are respected without comment.”

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Categories: Down Syndrome