Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I was born. See you in court.

You can't parody the culture of death. This is for real:

Israeli Children Suing for Their Own“Wrongful” Lives
Wesley J. Smith
This is so awful and tells us the state of discrimination and loathing faced by people with disabilities. Apparently so-called “wrongful life” lawsuits are epidemic in Israel–wherein parents sue in the name of their child because a disability went undetected in utero, and hence, no abortion was performed. From the Bionews story:
Increasing numbers of Israeli children with birth defects are suing medical professionals for failing to detect abnormalities and allowing them to be born, says the New Scientist. The magazine reports that such is the Israeli Government’s concern over the rise in ‘wrongful life’ lawsuits it has launched an investigation into the validity of the claims. New Scientist says the Israeli medical profession has estimated there to have been 600 ‘wrongful life’ lawsuits since the first case in 1987. ‘There is an entire system fuelled by money and the quest for the perfect baby ‘, said human rights lawyer Dr Carmel Shalev of the University of Haifa in Israel. ‘Everyone buys in to it – parents, doctors and labs. Parents want healthy babies, doctors encourage them to get tested, and some genetic tests are being marketed too early. Genetic testing has enormous benefits but it is overused and misused’.
Medical malpractice is one thing, wrongful life another. Won’t this lead to a “when in doubt, abort” mentality? But this is what really gets me:
The psychological implications of the lawsuits on the children concerned have been highlighted by several medical ethicists. ‘I find it very difficult to understand how parents can go on the witness stand and tell their children ‘it would have better for you not to have been born. What are the psychological effects on the children?’ said medical ethicist Professor Rabbi Avraham Steinberg of University Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem. The precise legal basis for the children’s claim and the court’s approach to calculating damages is not, however, clear.
Having children comes with no guarantee, nor should it. Wrongful life lawsuits should be banned legally as a matter of public policy and disdained ethically as a profound insult to human exceptionalism.
Catholic ethicists have a name for this-- they call it "structures of sin". Structures of sin are institutional and cultural manifestations of sin--  the secret police in totalitarian countries, as well as the abortion industry and the pornography industry, would be obvious examples.

The legal theory of "wrongful life" is a structure of sin. It is a manifestation of the culture of death in law. In "wrongful life" lawsuits, the legal theory is that it is actionable under tort law to allow a handicapped person to be born. It is a perversion of nearly every relevant principle of law and morality. Life is not a "harm", having a handicap does not diminish the value of a life nor does it make it in any way preferable to not have lived, etc.

Imagine the effect this will have on physicians who provide prenatal counseling. They can be sued-- by the family and by the child-- merely for not advocating abortion with sufficient vigor. Many physicians who do prenatal counseling are already insufficiently protective of the life of unborn children. This litigation will intimidate even those physicians trying to do the right thing and protect handicapped kids.

If you want to understand the absurdity and cultural rot bequeathed by the culture of death, there's no better place to look than "wrongful life" suits. I agree with Smith. Wrongful life suits should be banned and the legal professionals who brought them should be shunned. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Essentially a child making one of these cases would be putting forward an argument that they would be better off dead and having never made it to the point of birth.
    That is a literally insane and totally immoral argument
    Structure of sin? Perhaps. It is certainly a pattern in evil. Such manifestations show the complex nested relations of the twisted shadow that evil casts.
    People suing for the their OWN 'wrongful birth'?
    The world turned upside down.

  3. Who are those "liberals"? Is there any evidence that they exist outside your head?

  4. Well, it's not just disabled kids, although the hate and vitriol that was expressed toward Trig Palin, a baby, was astonishing.

    It's younger people and older people in general that are being targeted for elimination. Ezekiel Emanuel, MD (and brother of Rahm, adviser to President Lackwit) has made the case in Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions.

    Since medical resources will always be finite and limited, Emanuel and his co-authors propose the "complete lives system". George Orwell himself couldn't have done a better job with the name, since "completing" lives has nothing to do with the scheme. It's actually about who to kill. "Complete lives" allocates resources based on the expected Return on Investment (ROI) for the government.

    For example:
    "Consideration of the importance of complete lives also supports modifying the youngest-first principle by prioritising adolescents and young adults over infants (figure). Adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life."

    When you're just cattle, just trained meat, an interchangeable part of the laboring "masses", some of you will need to be culled to maximize the return for the plantation.

  5. Broken link to story....

  6. Given that Israel, an explicitly religious nation, is the only common law jurisdiction that has allowed wrongful life as a cognizable claim that can result in damages, it would seem that Egnor's hand-wringing over this issue is a little bit overblown.

    Most other courts and legislatures that have considered the issue have rejected it out of hand, or placed such limitations upon it as to make it practically impossible to bring such claims.

    1. True American Christian Jesus-Loving God-Fearing Baptist Preacher Creation ScientistDecember 12, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      But it's different, because their religion is not the right religion.

  7. George, insurance companies make these kinds of decisions all the time; often denying care because it will negatively affect the bottom line. A system of resource allocation that removes the motive to deny care for profit is far more desirable and fair than the system we have now.

  8. Document one insurance company that uses the complete lives system to allocate care and then we might have something to discuss.

  9. Why should I? Any system that allocates health recourses with the goals of maximizing positive results and equitable distribution of public recourses is superior or current system that incentivizes denying people care in order to make greater profit, and based on your description, that would include the complete lives system.

  10. @KW:

    That's right. Ceding control of complex vital processes to the government has a wonderful track record. Socialism is such a successful economic and civic model.

    There are many things about our current system with which I am dissatisfied, but "let's have the government do it" is an idiotic answer.

    The free market, consumer choice, and transparency are the keys to a good and compassionate system. My post is about a gruesome human rights violation in socialized British medicine.

  11. My post on Monday was about the British system, that is.

  12. It's not whether you should. You can't.

    And no one is arguing that life-and-death decisions shouldn't get made. They must, they have been since the dawn of time, and they will continue indefinitely.

    The issue is twofold, and I'll try to explain it so you can understand and (hopefully) refrain from meandering around on more tangential or unrelated issues..
    (1) What is the rule, or heuristic, underlying the decision, and
    (2) If I don't agree with that rule, what recourse do I have?

    First, I don't agree with the complete lives system. Period. I understand it. I don't like it. YMMV - don't care. At present, I simply opt-out by buying private insurance from a company whose rules are more compatible with my interests. But when I reach Medicare age, the government will force Medicare on me under threat of losing what pittance they deign to pay me from your taxes (assuming, of course, you pay taxes); i.e., Social Security. Since I have paid tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars into that pyramid scheme, I'd like to get some of it back. The Cosa Nostra could not have designed a more clever system.

    Second, with private insurance, if I disagree with the rules I am free to seek redress either in the courts or by lobbying my elected political representatives for legislative relief. Neither one of those avenues of redress will be available under the ACA. In fact, decisions of the IPAB (the so-called "death panels") have been statutorily excluded from judicial or legislative review.

    I don't really care what your views on this are, so, moving on to the topic of Egnor's post and terminating this discussion, here's my take...

    It should be perfectly fine if some ingrate wants to bring "wrongful life" lawsuits. If I were judge, I would simply adopt the rule of "better late than never". If the suit is successful, the "wrongful life" will be summarily terminated (in a humane way, of course) thus terminating the suffering, and the proceeds of the monetary recovery donated to disabilities research.