Accidental Baby

By Jim McVeagh 10/11/2009

I have a great deal of misgiving about the attempt of a couple to claim under ACC for the accident of their daughter’s birth. Their daughter’s spina bifida (open spine at birth) was not discovered on ultrasound and, as the parents insist that they would have aborted her, if they had known, they are trying to claim for her care on ACC. The case is currently on it’s way to high court.

Let me say at the outset that I find the current system where a child disabled by an accident has access to far more resources than one disabled at birth to be wholly unfair. Disabled children should have access to the exact same resources, regardless of the mechanism of their disability. This means that medically and congenitally disabled children are seriously underfunded (although this is not true for all disabilities).

Having said that, however, I have a number of concerns about this particular claim:

  1. I am appalled at this couples willingness to label their child, whom they claim to love, as an “accident” and a “missed abortion”. I can’t imagine how this little girl will feel when she is old enough to understand the import of her parent’s legal actions.
  2. I question whether not having the choice to abort is truly an “accident”. Clearly at least one court agrees with me. There are a number of congenital abnormalities that can be diagnosed with amniocentesis (fluid taken from the womb), for example. But this procedure is not without risk and so is not done routinely. Calling this incident an “accident” would mean that ACC would be liable for all congenital abnormalities diagnosable in the womb.
  3. I think that this is a dubious side-issue and does not address the real problem of disparities in childhood disability funding.

I do not think that “Bonnie” in the article is an accident. I doubt very much if her parents believe she is an “accident” either. I urge them to reconsider their approach and take their fight to the real arena, the funding of disabled babies.


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0 Responses to “Accidental Baby”

  • I’m sitting here wondering what happens if you extend the “accidents” to, say, the child suffering from (pre-natal) post-rubella syndrome because the mother didn’t take the vaccine or her immunity (via the vaccine) didn’t work out. The rubella infection was an accident… to be sure, but it’s besides the point, surely.

    I realise this may be argued to be a different kind of accident, but it’s what your article got me thinking.

    (Disclosure: I’ve got post-rubella syndrome “disabilities”.)