Parents who would have had abortion sue lawyers

A mother and father, who would have aborted their own daughter if they had known more about her chances of being disabled, are now suing their legal team.

The couple wanted to claim for damages against an NHS Trust for the ‘wrongful birth’ of the girl, but their lawyers said their claim was unlikely to succeed.

They are now suing their lawyers for professional negligence, a claim contested by the lawyers.


Bethany Chinnock-Shumann was born with a condition which required round-the-clock care.

But the court heard that mother Joanne Chinnock made it known to doctors that she “didn’t want a damaged child.”

According to a report in the Daily Mail, she said: “Our life stopped,” adding: “My whole focus while Bethany was alive was to look after her”.


Their daughter died in 2009 aged 11, and the court heard that caring for her had damaged Miss Chinnock’s life and career.

Michael Redfern QC is now representing the parents, who are both social workers.

He told the court that the pair’s previous legal team ignored the fact that doctors failed to carry out important tests which would have flagged up the rare chromosomal condition.


Mr Redfern also said the legal team ignored the parents’ determination not to have a disabled child.

He said: “If there was a risk that there was going to be an abnormality then, dependent on the level of that risk, she would have terminated.

“If there was a confirmation through scanning, then she would most certainly have terminated the pregnancy.


“We say that, in so far as the claim against the hospital is concerned, nothing could be clearer.”

He added: “In those circumstances, we could not get a more compelling case where there was a breach of duty.”

A columnist in the Daily Mail said the legal challenge seems “horribly” corrupt.


Sarah Vine said: “For the mother, Joanne Chinnock, to claim she would ‘almost certainly’ have had an abortion, in a desperate attempt to extract the cash only adds insult to injury – not only to their daughter’s memory, but also to all those who love and care for their own disabled children.”

The judge, Mr Justice Dingemans, reserved his judgement until a later date.

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