Parents of spina bifida girl win in court

Last updated 15:59 03/12/2013

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The Auckland parents of a child with spina bifida could receive an ACC payout after successfully arguing they were denied the chance to abort their daughter.

Doctors missed signs of the defect in the foetus during a 20-week scan.

The couple said they would have terminated the pregnancy had they known the daughter, who was born in 2007, had spina bifida.

In a decision released today, the Court of Appeal ruled that the couple, who have name suppression, suffered a personal injury because of the misdiagnosis.

The case would now return to the district court.

The parents had appealed against a High Court ruling that sided with an ACC decision not to provide cover.

Doctors initially read the the pregnancy scan as normal, but an independent specialist reviewing the case said the signs of spina bifida were there.

The couple argued that they were denied the chance to abort their daughter because doctors failed to disclose a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal were not connected.

Their daughter needed ongoing care and operations because of spina bifida.

Compensation is being sought to cover the costs of caring for their daughter.

The mother spoke out about their court battle in 2009.

She said she was not ashamed of saying she would have aborted her daughter.

"In no way are we saying we don't want her now, " she said.

"It would have been a very difficult decision – not something taken lightly – but with the information we would have had at the time, had they given it to us, that's the decision we would have made."

The mother said she wanted to be able to tell her daughter that she did everything she could to guarantee a stable life for her.

The family's lawyer, Philip Schmidt, earlier said that the case could set a standard amount of ACC cover for similar cases.

The case has been referred back to the district court so further evidence can be heard.

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- Fairfax Media

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