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December 1987

Wrongful Births: When Is There Liability for Prenatal Injury?

Author Affiliations

Dr Fleisher is with Sidley & Austin, Chicago.

Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(12):1260-1265. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460120022023

• Every jurisdiction recognizes the right of a child to recover damages for prenatal injury caused by the negligence of a third party. This concept of liability for prenatal injury has been extended to include the right of parents (and sometimes the child) to recover damages from a physician who negligently deprives them of the opportunity to prevent the "wrongful birth" of an affected child. The most troubling question to arise, however, is whether a pregnant woman has a legal duty to avoid negligent behavior that may injure her future child. The unique and compelling conflicts that surround the recognition of such a prematernal duty encompass the child's right to be born free of any negligently induced injury and the pregnant woman's rights to personal privacy and bodily autonomy.

(AJDC 1987;141:1260-1265)