Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Double Misconception!

A mother of seven has today been awarded €90,000 in damages after a sterilisation operation failed and she gave birth to two children. However, Mr Justice Peter Kelly refused to award the woman and her now estranged husband damages for the cost of rearing the two children to adulthood. In what was the first claim of its kind, the couple had said they should receive the same costs as would have been incurred if the two children were raised in foster care. They were seeking just over €381,000 in damages for that aspect of the case. (

Not simple this case - it seems that the doctor knew that the operation had failed and explained the first post-op baby by saying the mother was already expecting when the procedure was done! I imagine he was praying hard that she would subsequently feel called to chastity - but like St Augustine it was a case of 'not yet' and so his failure was rumbled.

I think the judge got it right - not least because of the consequences for the two children whose parents would effectively be compensated for their existence. Whatever the circumstances of the mother concerned it seems unhelpful for all concerned to bring economic compensation into the delicate mix that is parental love and care. I know that they never planned to have more children (obviously) and that they had good reason but would such massive financial compensation really make it alright? I suspect it would make an already difficult situation even more devisive. This was a case where the wisdom of Solomon was called for and in his arguments Mr Justice Peter Kelly did a good job. The judge said that the benefits of having a healthy child outweighed any loss incurred in rearing them. And he said that if he did award damages in such a case it would open the door to a limitless range of claims in respect of every aspect of family life.

Common sense won the day and on this occassion we have been well served by our judiciary.

No comments: