As part of my gig writing about pregnancy for Babble, I get a lot of Google alerts related to pregnancy, birth, fertility, abortion, and other germane topics. This, unfortunately, often yields me a slew of links to news stories that make me really sad or really angry. Occasionally, it nets me a story that is just jaw-droppingly nuts like this one:
OK, here’s a story for the Oh Mah Gah Files. Apparently a doctor in Spain was supposed to perform an abortion on a young woman who was seven weeks pregnant. He evidently did the procedure, did a follow up ultrasound two weeks later, and pronounced his patient no longer pregnant.
Only she was. Pregnant, that is. The doctor had failed to complete the abortion, somehow. When the woman returned to the doctor several months later thinking she was pregnant again, she was told that it was actually initial pregnancy which had progressed to 22 weeks leaving her no choice but to carry to term:
“The boy was born in October 2010, six months after his mother had gone for an abortion at the city’s Emece clinic. The operation had been performed when the mother was almost seven weeks pregnant. The doctor told her two weeks later that a scan proved she was no longer pregnant.
In his sentence, Judge Francisco Pérez said the doctor had paid virtually no attention to the scan, though Munar said the clinic had not produced a copy.”
The young woman sued the doctor and he was ordered to pay a lump sum equaling $189,000 to the mother for emotional damages as well as the equivalent of $1300 per month in child support until the boy is 26.
I KNOW! Isn’t that crazy? A doctor was grossly incompetent in both the OR and the exam room later and completely failed to treat his patient appropriately resulting in long-term consequences that affect her whole life! I think he should lose his license – or at the very least be sent back t medical school to, I don’t know, learn how to practice medicine correctly.
I think the court ruling is pretty damn interesting. I’m not sure we’d see anything similar in the US. For one thing, no doctor would let that go to trial. They would be all “SETTLE! Keep this out of the papers at all costs!”. Unless…unless the doctor were an anti-choice zealot who did it on purpose as a means of preventing abortion and wanted the publicity for their cause. And I’m sorry to say that I don’t think that scenario is out of the realm of possibility, especially in some of those states that are trying to shield doctors from wrongful birth suits in the event that they deliberately fail to disclose information to expectant parents that might lead them to abort a pregnancy.
Either way, this case in Spain is the first of its kind there and probably the first of it’s kind anywhere. How it will turn out on appeal is anyone’s guess.