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News >  Idaho

High court denies wrongful birth suit

Associated Press

BOISE – The state’s highest court on Wednesday turned down a wrongful birth lawsuit from a couple who claims they were denied information that would have led them to terminate a pregnancy.

Rick and Danika VanVooren claimed four doctors, the Twin Falls Magic Valley Medical Center and Magic Valley Women’s Health failed to provide adequate care during Danika’s pregnancy. The couple’s child, Bailey VanVooren, was born with severe birth defects and died shortly after birth.

The VanVoorens claimed that the medical centers and the doctors – Donald Smith, Marc Astin, Monte Crandall and Darren Coleman – were negligent and failed to properly diagnose the birth defects, denying them the opportunity to terminate the pregnancy.

But 5th District Judge John Butler found, and the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed, that a law enacted by the Legislature in 1984 prohibits wrongful birth lawsuits. The law specifically states that lawsuits may not be based on “the claim that but for the act or omission of another, a person would not have been permitted to have been born alive but would have been aborted.”

The high court also denied claims of emotional distress that the VanVoorens brought up in their appeal, saying the couple was trying to “bootstrap an amendment” to the original complaint.

“Their claim is based on testimony in Mrs. VanVooren’s deposition that, had she known of Bailey’s birth defects, she would have taken certain actions to better prepare for the birth. However, deposition testimony is not sufficient to accomplish an amendment to a complaint,” Justice Jim Jones wrote for the unanimous court.

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