Mother of baby born with Down's Syndrome wins compensation for 'wrongful birth'

(Photo: Unsplash/Omar Lopez)

The NHS is faced with having to pay thousands of pounds in damages after being successfully sued for 'wrongful birth' by a woman who says she would have aborted her son if she had known that he had Down's Syndrome.

Edyta Mordel has won the right to compensation and could receive a six figure sum, The Metro reports, after suing the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust because it failed to detect the condition during her pregnancy. 

She became pregnant with her son Aleksander in 2014 and gave birth to him in January 2015 but she told the High Court in London that she would not have continued with the pregnancy if she had been aware that he had Down's Syndrome. 

She claims that she told a midwife she wanted to test for the condition, while the NHS argued that she had been offered the screening but declined. 

"I knew someone from work with Down's syndrome. I saw how difficult his life is and I would not have continued my pregnancy," Mordel said from the witness box.

"I would not have wanted a disabled child and I would not have wanted my child to suffer the way disabled people suffer. I wouldn't want to have brought my child into the world like that."

Mr Justice Jay concluded that Ms Mordel, who had been booked in for the test, had misunderstood when the sonographer asked if she wanted to have the screening done and that the NHS did not have "informed consent" from the mother because she mistakenly believed it had already been carried out. 

He further concluded that the sonographer and a midwife had "failed to discharge their duty" by not questioning her apparent refusal. 

"The claimant probably would have proceeded to invasive testing had she been told that there was a high risk of Down's syndrome," he said. 

"[She] was a relatively young mother and I think that at the end of the day the fear that she might be carrying a child with Down's syndrome would, at least for her, have tipped the balance."

Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson strongly criticised the verdict.

"It is not wrongful that babies are born with Down syndrome or other disabilities. It is wrongful that taxpayer money is compensating a culture and a society which sees disabled children as an inconvenience," she said. 

"It is wrongful that the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe has led to a state-funded programme targeting unborn babies who are perceived to have a disability. Babies, that as evidenced by Sally Philips and many other mothers with disabled children, lead happy and fulfilling lives."