Kassama v. Magat
Maryland. Court of Appeals
Atlantic Reporter, 2d Series, 2002; 792: 1102-1124
Court Decision: 792 Atlantic Reporter, 2d Series 1102; 2002 Feb 5 (date of decision). The Maryland Court of Appeals held that life cannot be an injury that gives rise to a "wrongful life" claim. At her first appointment with Dr. Aaron Magat, an ultrasound confirmed that Millicent Kassama was carrying a 17- week-old fetus. Magat referred Kassama for alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) testing to determine whether she was at an increased risk for carrying a Down's syndrome baby. The test results, received at 22 weeks, indicated an increased risk of Down's syndrome. Because abortions of Down's syndrome fetuses are not performed in Maryland after 24 weeks, Magat advised Kassama that she would likely have to go out-of-state for an abortion if amniocentesis results (usually available within two weeks of the test) were positive. Kassama gave birth to a baby with Down's syndrome. She claims she was not informed of the results or her options. Kassama, on behalf of her child, sued Magat for "wrongful life." The Maryland Court of Appeals held that an "impaired life is not worse than non-life, and, for that reason, life is not and cannot be, an injury." The court based its holding on the fact that a jury cannot issue a consistent and reasoned verdict on the value of life because that value is so intimately intertwined with individual philosophy and theology. [KIE/INW]
Date of Decision: 2002 February 5
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