C.S. v. Nielson
In C.S. v. Nielson, 767 P.2d 504, 506 (Utah 1988), the Court held "Wrongful pregnancy" denotes parents "bringing a claim on their own behalf for the monetary and emotional damages they suffered as a result of giving birth to a normal and healthy but unplanned and unwanted child."
The court in Nielson distinguished between wrongful pregnancy, wrongful life and wrongful birth actions in the following way:
'Wrongful pregnancy,' or 'wrongful conception' as it is occasionally termed, refers to those cases where parents bring a claim on their own behalf for the monetary and emotional damages they suffered as a result of giving birth to a normal and healthy but unplanned and unwanted child. Such actions are usually based upon a negligently performed or counseled sterilization procedure or abortion, or negligence in preparing or dispensing a contraceptive prescription. . . .
'Wrongful birth,' on the other hand, refers to the cause of action whereby parents claim they would have avoided conception or terminated an existing pregnancy by abortion but for the negligence of those charged with, among other things, prenatal testing or counseling as to the likelihood of giving birth to a physically or mentally impaired child. 'Wrongful life' is the corresponding action by or on behalf of an impaired child alleging that but for the medical professional's negligence, the child would not have been born to experience the pain and suffering associated with his or her affliction or impairment.
In Nielson, the court also noted that courts "have been almost unanimous in their recognition of a wrongful birth cause of action against a physician or other health care provider where it is alleged that but for the defendant's negligence the parents would have terminated the congenitally or genetically defective fetus by abortion." Id. at 506 n.4. Nielson did not except Utah from that list.
In Nielson this court acknowledged that "the failure to recognize a cause of action against a physician who negligently performs surgical sterilization procedures would be a grant of absolute immunity to a physician whose negligence results in injury to the patient." Nielson, 767 P.2d at 506.
The court declined to grant medical providers such broad immunity and saw "no reason why a physician who performs such surgery [sterilization] should be held to a lesser standard of care than a physician or surgeon who performs any other surgical procedure." Id. at 508.
This court also warned that "such a ruling could lead to a decrease in the standard of care, and would leave victims of professional negligence without a remedy'" violating article I, section 11. Id.