Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Deo Datum

A Boston woman with the rather unfortunate name of Katharine Raper is suing her doctors for failing to abort her child. The child in question is now 2 years old and has no medical problems, and Ms Raper is therefore not suing for incurred medical expense, but for the ordinary cost of raising a child.

There is American precedent (and British for that matter) that exceptional medical costs caused by negligent medical treatment (like a botched delivery causing brain damage) can be recovered. But this is not at issue here. This woman is attempting to claim for the damage done to her bank balance by bringing a child into the world and raising it. British law is clear on this (though I'm not going to flog my aging brain for the case referral): a child is a gift from God, as such it cannot be seen as a loss. Accordingly natural costs of child-rearing cannot be recovered.
If all Ms Raper sees her little girl as is as a financial burden then there is a straightforward remedy. She can put her up for adoption. Otherwise, though she should have the right to claim for any physical damage suffered as a result of negligent medical treatment, she can have no right to claim financial compensation for giving birth to a child.

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