Italian hospital must pay mother for poor prenatal screening
Judge rules right to choose abortion denied in birth-defect case17 October, 13:17
The mother had undergone prenatal screening at the hospital, but a doctor failed to that detect a severe form of spina bifida, caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube, called meliomeningocele.
In meliomeningocele, an unfused portion of the vertebrae allows the spinal cord to protrude through an opening, causing severe complications.
Judge Marino Marongiu ruled that the hospital violated the woman's ability to "exercise (her) right to interrupt the pregnancy" by failing to provide accurate information in time to effectively give her a choice whether to continue the pregnancy.
Marongiu wrote in his sentence that a hospital doctor failed in photographic documentation of the fetus to adequately visualize organs "as is necessary for the obligatory completeness of the exam, and specifically to be able to exclude the diagnosis of meliomeningocele". The judge rejected the defense argument that the woman probably would not have terminated the pregnancy even if she had been informed of the birth defect because "she had wanted and awaited the baby's birth for a long time" and had admitted to "not knowing what she would have done had she known about the fetus's birth defect" in time to terminate the pregnancy.
The judge chalked up the woman's uncertainty to being "conditioned by the birth event and emotional relationship instilled with the little one" and said that her right to a choice must be considered "before and not after" the event in question.
The parties who lost the legal battle were the hospital and the heirs of the doctor who performed the prenatal screening, because the doctor passed away during legal proceedings against him.