Sat, May 26, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Doctor ordered to pay maintainance after failed abortion

NEGLIGENT:The judge said the doctor had paid virtually no attention to a scan and that the mother had suffered huge stress worrying about the baby

The Guardian, MADRID

A Spanish doctor has been ordered to pay for the upkeep of a child after a failed abortion operation meant the boy’s mother was obliged to see her pregnancy through.

In a unique case, a court in Palma de Mallorca ordered the unnamed doctor to pay almost 1,000 euros (US$1,260) a month in maintenance for the child until he reaches his 25th birthday.

“There has never been a case like this before in Spain,” said Eva Munar, lawyer for the 24-year-old mother. “We don’t know if it has ever happened anywhere else in the world.”

The boy was born in October 2010, six months after his mother had gone for an abortion at the Palma’s Emece clinic.

The operation had been performed when the mother was almost seven weeks pregnant. The doctor told her two weeks later that a scan proved she was no longer pregnant.

In his sentence, judge Francisco Perez said the doctor had paid virtually no attention to the scan, though Munar said the clinic had not produced a copy.

“The scan lasted three minutes and I was out again,” the mother told journalists on Thursday. “It was: ‘You are fine, off you go and carry on with your life as normal.’”

She did not return to the clinic for three months, only after becoming convinced she must have become pregnant by mistake once more.

A fresh scan revealed that it was the same pregnancy. She was already into her sixth month and past the 22-week limit for abortions in Spain.

“I sought advice and was told that it would be a crime to abort at that stage,” she said.

The woman, who had hidden her pregnancy from her family out of fear, was forced to confront her parents with the news. She and the child now live with them.

Despite the fact that a suction technique had been used to try to remove the embryo, the boy was born healthy.

The mother sued the doctor for damages, with the court awarding her 150,000 euros. It also decided the doctor and his insurer should pay maintenance of 978 euros a month for 25 years, or a further 293,000 euros.

“I am living off my parents now and it shouldn’t be like that,” the mother said.

Among other things, Perez said that the mother had suffered huge stress because she did not know whether her child would be born healthy.

“I am OK now, because I have had to accept things. There is no other option. I’m happy with my son,” the mother said. “When I have to explain all this to him, I’ll try to make sure that he feels OK about it. It was back then that he was not wanted, not now.”

“Obviously this has changed her life,” Munar said. “This is not what she was planning and she certainly didn’t expect it to happen after visiting the clinic. I am just glad the child was born healthy and we didn’t have to bring a different kind of negligence case.”

The doctor’s lawyers are reportedly set to appeal the decision.

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