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Michigan case brings attention to the rights of the unborn

A case for medical malpractice is moving forward involving the death of a newborn born at only 18 weeks.

A case out of Michigan is bringing attention to the state's laws regarding unborn children. The case involves a woman who suffered the loss of an unborn child due to a physician's negligent care. The negligence caused the woman to go into labor at 18 weeks. The infant did not survive.

Historically, courts in Michigan did not allow suits involving pregnancies that were less than 24 weeks along. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiff, allowing the lawsuit to move forward based on a review of the state's wrongful death statute.

Fetus and newborn laws in Michigan

There are laws at both the state and federal levels that provide protection to the fetus. Two primary examples recently discussed in a University of Michigan publication designed to provide guidance for medical professionals in the OB/GYN field include:

  • Michigan's Fetal Protection Act. The state considers killing an "unborn quick child" manslaughter. This is generally translated to mean viable fetuses, or those that could survive outside of the womb. Penalties are also present under this law for actions that either intentionally or with willful disregard lead to the miscarriage, stillbirth or aggravated physical injury of an embryo or fetus. However, it is important to note that this law does not apply to physicians who conduct a proper medical procedure within the scope of the medical professional's practice and with the consent of the pregnant woman.
  • The Federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Criminal liability can also apply in situations involving certain violent crimes that lead to the death or injury of a child in utero. The person responsible for the injury or death of the child need not know that the woman was pregnant at the time of the violent act to be held liable.

Pregnancy issues and medical malpractice

Even with the vast array of advances in medicine, not every pregnancy results in a healthy infant. In very rare cases, genetic or other factors result in a fetus that is not viable. In others, the negligent or reckless act of a health care provider or other third party leads to needless injury or death of the fetus.

Establishing these claims can be a complex process. As a result, those who believe they are the victims of this or a similar medical malpractice claim are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced Michigan medical malpractice lawyer. This legal professional will advocate for your rights, working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.