A seven year old boy in Austria was born with a defective spine, hydrocephalus and club feet. He has had several operations and has to take medicine.
The boy’s parents sued the doctor and the hospital. They said they would have had the foetus aborted if they had known it was p hysically disabled. The Supreme Court found in favour of the parents. The entire cost of raising the child, such as specialist care, will now be paid by the state and backdated seven years. The Austrian minister of health said the parents had a right to full compensation (paid by taxpayers) because of a “faulty diagnosis”.
Cardinal Schonborn and the Catholic bishops said the verdict was “unacceptable” . It would lead, they warned, to more pressure on women to have abortions. It would encourage “panic diagnoses” and increase the pressure on women to have abortions at the slightest risk of abnormality. Furthermore, the court’s decision would support the already widespread opinion that brought into question handicapped people’s right to live. The Cardinal also noted that the court’s decision coincided with the seventieth anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Austria when thousands of disabled Austrians were killed.
Caritas Austria and organizations for the disabled supported the Cardinal’s position.
Should severely defective foetuses be aborted to avoid large public expenditures to support the care of disabled people?