In the Land of the Long White Cloud there was a disturbing development this past week. A New Zealand mother and father were declared to have suffered a “personal injury” and were entitled to compensation from New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
Okay… I’m sure the NZ courts make those rulings with monotonous regularity and it’s good that there is a system for which those who have suffered serious personal injury can receive some sort of compensation.
What was unusual in this case though was that these Auckland parents were approved compensation for being denied a chance to abort their baby daughter before she was born. You see, their little girl was born with Spina-bifida and doctors apparently missed the early signs to detect this handicap at the routine 20-week scan. The couple said they would have “terminated the pregnancy” had they known that their daughter, who was born in 2007, had spina-bifida.
The court case for this claim began back in February this year and was defeated but then appealed. In a ruling handed down this past week the Court of Appeal ruled that this couple had suffered a personal injury due to this misdiagnosis.
I don’t want to play down the seriousness of this matter. Whether we’re talking about Spina-bifida, Downs Syndrome or any of a whole range of handicaps one has to have a huge amount of sympathy for parents who are called to raise a handicapped child. However, the sad reality is that these days such handicapped babies are increasingly not allowed to be born. Or course that’s not a new development. In my first congregation in the 1970’s a young mum in our church became pregnant and soon afterwards several of her other children became infected with German Measles (Rubella). Her gynaecologist advised her to have an abortion because he was convinced that her baby would be born handicapped. She told him in no uncertain terms that as a Christian she couldn’t go that road. Thankfully the Lord blessed her and he husband with a healthy child.
What is now new is that someone who is not warned of a possible disability in their unborn baby is now ruled to have suffered a “personal injury” if the baby is born with a handicap. One has to ask what this ruling will do to the medical profession. Medical people are already in a situation where they are not allowed to make mistakes and they are sued when they do. That has led to an escalation of medical costs due to fast rising litigation insurance for doctors and specialists.
More serious is what this says about where our society is at. We are now beginning to practice the kind of eugenics that led Nazi Germany to invent the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Hitler began with the severely handicapped but moved on from there to exterminate gypsies and Jews.
What I found hardest to handle in the reports from across the ditch last week was the contradictory statements that the mother made. On the one hand she was quoted as saying, “In no way are we saying we don’t want her now” and “I want to be able to tell my daughter that I did everything I could to guarantee a stable life for her.” Yet on the other hand she also commented that she was not ashamed of saying she would have aborted her daughter. “It would have been a very difficult decision – not something taken lightly – but with the information we would have had at the time, had they given it to us, that’s the decision we would have made.”
That’s like saying, “My child, I love you… but if I’d had the chance I would have killed you when I was still able to do that legally.”
New Zealand, like Australia, has moved a long way from its Christian-Judaeo roots – and the slippery slide downhill continues. Stories like this make me pray all the more urgently, “Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!”