Does six-year-old Adam Siemieniec wish he had never been born? According to a lawsuit his parents filed on his behalf, he would have been better to have been aborted than to have been born with hemophilia B.

After conceiving Adam in 1980, Janice Siemieniec, who had two hemophilic cousins, sought medical advice, informing her physician that she desired to terminate the pregnancy if there was a substantial risk of her bearing a hemophilic child. She was told on the advice of a specialist that her risk of being a carrier of classic hemophilia was “very low.” The Siemieniecs proceeded with the pregnancy, and Adam was born without factor IX coagulation activity in his plasma.

The suit brought on behalf of Adam to recover medical expenses he will incur as an adult and the suit brought by his parents both to recover the extraordinary costs of raising Adam and to be compensated for emotional distress are part of a larger trend of “wrongful life” and “wrongful birth” torts. Unlike medical malpractice suits that claim prenatal injury, these suits do not claim that a child like Adam should have been born healthy, but rather that he should not have been born at all. The court is therefore asked to assess damages not by comparing a medically burdened life with a healthy existence, but by comparing a burdened life to nonexistence. And that’s mighty tricky.

Although the Illinois Supreme Court inconsistently allowed the parents to sue for the medical costs of raising Adam while denying him the right to sue for similar costs he will face as an adult, the court fortunately refused to recognize “a fundamental legal right not to be born when birth would necessarily entail a life of hardship.” ...

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