American Journal of Law & Medicine

Wrongful birth: Utah statute banning wrongful birth claims does not violate due process or equal protection - Wood v. University of Utah Medical Center.

The Supreme Court of Utah held that Utah's Wrongful Life Act, (2) which bars tort claims for wrongful birth and life, did not violate the Due Process or Equal Protection Clauses of the Utah and U.S. Constitutions. (3) The Act prohibits any suit which claims "that but for the act or omission of another, a person would not have been permitted to have been born alive but would have been aborted." (4)

The plaintiffs, Marie Wood and her husband Terry Borman, sought genetic counseling from the defendant, the University of Utah Medical Center (Medical Center), after Wood became pregnant. Specifically, Wood sought advice about the risk that she might give birth to a child with a genetic disorder because of her age. The plaintiffs underwent a series of tests that indicated an eighty-five percent chance that the child would be born with Down's Syndrome. Nevertheless, doctors led the plaintiffs to believe the tests had yielded a false positive and that, in fact, the chances were very low. In August 1998, Wood gave birth to a baby girl with Down's Syndrome. The plaintiffs raised several causes of action including negligence in performing and interpreting the various tests, failure to obtain informed consent and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiffs also claimed that the Act was unconstitutional. The trial court granted the Medical Center's motion for a judgment on the pleadings on the grounds that the Act barred the plaintiffs' claims. …

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