Mother sues over missed Down syndrome diagnosis, says she would have aborted

Girl with Down syndrome Credit Denis Kuvaev via Shutterstock CNA A girl with Down syndrome. | Denis Kuvaev/Shutterstock.

The mother of a 4 year-old with Down syndrome is suing the National Health Service of the United Kingdom for what she claims was a failure to offer her a prenatal test for the disability.

Edyta Mordel, 33, claims that if she had known that her son, Aleksander, had Down syndrome in the womb, she would have aborted the pregnancy.

With the lawsuit, Mordel has said that she is seeking £200,000 ($249,000) compensation for the rising costs of care for Aleksander due to his disability. Mordel is originally from Poland but now lives in the U.K. with her son and his father, Lukasz Cieciura.

Lawyers representing the NHS have argued that hospital records show that Mordel declined a prenatal test for Down syndrome, The Telegraph reported. Mordel is being represented by Clodagh Bradley QC.

According to the lawsuit, records from the Royal Berkshire Hospital indicate that Mordel declined the prenatal test for Down syndrome in 2014 when she was 12 weeks pregnant. In their arguments, the NHS claimed that Mordel decided to decline it after learning that the procedure carries with it a slight risk of miscarriage.

Mordel's lawyers have argued that the hospital sonographer was mistaken in recording that Mordel declined the test.

"If she would ask me if I wanted any test for Down's syndrome, I would say 'yes,'" Mordel said in court proceedings, according to The Telegraph.

"I knew from the start that I would agree on the Down's syndrome screening and I would not make any other decision," she said.

A decision on the case has not yet been made.

Down syndrome is caused by a person having an extra chromosome. The condition causes people with Down syndrome to have distinct features such as almond-shaped eyes and poor muscle definition in some areas, as well as a shorter height in adulthood.

According to Mayo Clinic, the condition is associated with a higher risk of heart and gastrointestinal problems, immune disorders, leukemia, and some other medical problems. It also causes learning and development delays and disabilities in most individuals, though the severity of these varies widely from person to person.

The current life expectancy for a person with Down syndrome is 60 or more years. According to Mayo Clinic, individuals with Down syndrome with access to early interventions and routine medical care can live full and healthy lives.

The ethics of testing for Down syndrome in the womb have been debated by many in the pro-life and disability communities, because these tests have led to widespread abortions of unborn children who test positive for the disability.

In 2018, the states of Utah and Pennsylvania considered legislation that would have banned abortions solely due to a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis, in an effort to protect babies with disabilities from discrimination.

In 2017, Iceland claimed to have nearly "eradicated" Down syndrome, due to abortions of unborn children who tested positive for the disability.

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