Wrongful life refers to a claim or cause of action in which a severely disabled child (through the child’s legal guardian) sues the child’s mother’s doctor or hospital for failing to provide the child’s parents with information about the child’s disability during the pregnancy, or about a genetic disposition for the birth defect with which the child was born, causing the child a lifetime of suffering and medical expenses.
In such cases the child argues the parents would have had an abortion or chosen not to get pregnant if they had known of the birth defect or the genetic disposition for it. Most states do not recognize a wrongful life claim, but California, Maine, New Jersey, and Washington do.
Wrongful birth is a similar claim or cause of action that may be brought by the disabled child’s parents in states that recognize such a claim—and about half of the states do. Wrongful birth is a type of medical malpractice claim.