GYN′s ″Human″ Error Will Now Be Getting Child Support | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 15.11.2006

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GYN's "Human" Error Will Now Be Getting Child Support

He did not invite her for a candlelight dinner, did not try out his moves by a crackling fire, whispered no sweet nothings in her ear. But he still got slapped with a child support suit -- and lost.

pregant woman showing belly

A mother's pride and joy can be a gynecologists worst nightmare

To paraphrase a certain ex-US president, "he did not have sex with that woman." And this time, it was true.

But a German court ruled court that a gynecologist must pay support for up to 18 years for a child who was conceived because of a botched a contraceptive implant.

The Karlsruhe-based federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the doctor must pay his former patient, now a mother of a three-year-old boy, 600 euros ($769) a month because she became pregnant after he implanted her with a contraceptive device.

Six-month surprise

In February 2002, the then-21 year old plaintiff had just finished training to become a preschool teacher and had just accepted her first job. She went to the doctor who implanted a slow-releasing hormone patch meant to protect against pregnancy for three years.

father changing his son's diapers

Someone's got to pay for all those diapers...

But half a year after the procedure, she was found to be 16 weeks pregnant – and neither the implant nor any of its chemicals were found in her body.

She passed up the job due to the pregnancy -- and sued for damages.

"Perverse idea"

Now, gynecologists are in a panic that they may face a slew of such cases. And German news media were in an uproar over the Solomonic decision, which significantly broadens the notion of medical liability in the country.

"A child as a case for damages -- this perverse idea has now been confirmed by one of Germany's highest courts," conservative Die Welt daily newspaper wrote in an editorial on Wednesday.

What's the damage?

While celebrating the fact that a doctor "can now be held to account in the same way as a shoddy plumber," the paper continued, the writer wondered how the boy's parents can come to terms with the situation.

"In addition to the highly private inkling that he was not wanted by his parents, he now has official confirmation that he was born by mistake," the paper wrote.

In arguments in the court, however, the prosecuting lawyer insisted that "it's not the child's existence that is seen as a damage -- just his child support payments."

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