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It is a Boy! See You in Court, Vasectomy Doctor

By Meredith Carroll |

Crying baby

Parents in Oregon say a doctor botched a vasectomy, resulting in the birth of their son

To err is human, to forgive divine. That’s according to Alexander Pope, and definitely not according to a couple in Eugene, Ore., who are suing a doctor there for a botched vasectomy that resulted in the birth of their son.

The couple alleges that the doctor knew the man’s tubes were “thin and difficult to dissect,” and that complications were encountered during the surgery. The doctor, meanwhile, didn’t inform the couple of any problems, say the husband and wife. They are seeking $650,000 from the doctor and hospital board for part of the cost of the c-section to deliver the baby, plus the expense of rearing their child and his college tuition.

However, did the couple not sign any kind of waiver before the surgery acknowledging that 99.85 percent of vasectomies are successful, but .15 percent, or one to two women out of 1,000 will still get pregnant within the first year following their partner’s procedure?

The second thought that springs to my mind (after the poor, possibly unwanted child) is that maybe the parents’ religious beliefs prevented them from terminating the seemingly unwanted pregnancy. But someone with religious beliefs stronger than mine (who wasn’t hard to come by) said if the couple were that religious, they probably wouldn’t have undergone a vasectomy for birth control reasons in the first place.

By all means, sue for the botched procedure. But suing for the cost of raising your own child? Really? That smacks of mean (to me, anyway), and I weep for the boy’s future emotional health. Maybe he should retain a lawyer (and maybe his parents should hold onto the number of their own, just in case they go from plaintiffs to defendants in 18 years or so).

On that same note, I wonder if the $650,000 sum includes therapy for the kid who will know just how much his parents didn’t want him as soon as he asks them why he drives a Ferrari while his friends all take the bus.

Do you agree with the couple’s lawsuit?

Image: Wikipedia

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About Meredith Carroll

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Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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18 thoughts on “It is a Boy! See You in Court, Vasectomy Doctor

  1. Ri-chan says:

    I think they just saw an easy way to make a better life for a son they hadn’t intended on having but love anyway.

  2. Meredith Carroll says:

    That’s certainly an optimistic view, @Ri-Chan. But I saw nothing in the original story to indicate the law suit was borne out of love.

  3. Ri-chan says:

    Lol I try to be relatively optimistic

  4. Meredith Carroll says:

    Well, for the boy’s sake, @Ri-Chan, I hope you’re right!

  5. In Eugene says:

    I read this article in our paper today. My first thought was that it was sad for the boy and the parents were jerks. But apparently, when the dad went in afterwards, the lab noted sperm “too noticeable to count” but he was given the result that there were no more sperm. It seems like a pretty bad mess-up on someone’s part with serious consequences. The parents seemed clear that they love their son, but now have a load of financial responsibility that they paid a professional to make sure they wouldn’t have.

    I also see it as a pretty easy way to make for an easier life for their family. My husband is getting the big V next month (but not that doctor- haha) largely because we recognize that we’re not in a financial position to have any more kids. If someone else were totally footing the bill, I’d surely have another, but it would not be very responsible for us to do that on our own.

  6. estab1971 says:

    I have to dissent on the religious aspect. I think a LOT of religious people come down on the pro choice before conception / pro life after side. And a lot more people have a moral compass that says that they personally couldn’t have an abortion even if they support freedom of choice. I’d be curious if he had his sperm count tested before he went unprotected; that’s supposedly standard procedure and should have let them know that they weren’t safe.

  7. Meredith Carroll says:

    That’s an interesting take on the whole thing, @In Eugene. Thanks for commenting.

    @Estab1971 — I heard what you’re saying about pro choice before conception, etc., but since I don’t know the couple I can’t begin to speak if this was a religious/moral decision.

  8. Larissa says:

    Meredith, did you read the original Register Guard article? Here’s the family’s comment: “We are thankful for our child every day,” they wrote in response to a reporter’s request for comment. “He is loved and adored by our family and friends. We didn’t know we needed this baby to complete our family. The issue is not our love for our child.”

  9. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Larissa — While it’s good to know that they parents seem to love their son unconditionally (thankfully!), I can’t say as my mind is changed by hearing that. I don’t blame people for good things in my life — I credit them. While I think it’s okay to blame (and sue) for a botched surgery regardless of the outcome, I just couldn’t personally reconcile suing for something (someone) I loved and adored. That seems off base to me.

  10. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    Last I heard, it is perfectly valid to sue for future costs of care that are the direct result of a botched medical procedure. Not only wasn’t this father informed of troubles with the procedure, he was given incorrect lab info that gave him the all clear. And do you really think that it’s going to send a person into therapy to be told that they weren’t planned, but Mom and Dad sued and it provided for a better life for them? And it’s not like they are trying to hit the jackpot and be frivolous with that figure either. The parents sound like they are trying to be pretty damned responsible. It sucks that they must be held in contempt by those who would question their love for the child while not losing sleep over the quality of said child’s life. It’s similar to those who are against abortion and simultaneously against welfare.

  11. Meredith Carroll says:

    Thanks for commenting, @Mistress_Scorpio.

  12. Lyn says:

    I have a cousin that had her tubes tied & her husband had a vasectomy – two years later they had a son. NOTHING is foolproof.

  13. Alicia says:

    @Lyn – Not entirely correct; hysterectomies tend to be pretty much fool proof. ;)

    I agree with Mistress_Scorpio that this lawsuit is pretty reasonable. They paid for a vasectomy and someone screwed it up, so that person should be held responsible for the result of their failure. Yes, the couple could’ve aborted, but perhaps they are against that. That doesn’t mean the person who messed up shouldn’t be held accountable for messing up. As long as this couple love and take care of their son, plus don’t try to get a crazy amount of money (they could’ve tried for millions), they’re not being greedy jerks.

  14. Cat says:

    I read the original article and it seems unclear whether the vasectomy procedure was done incorrectly or if the issue is that the Doctor gave the “all clear” incorrectly. Obviously they were still able to get preggers so maybe it’s a little of both, but in my mind giving the “all clear” when the lab test said otherwise is the bigger problem. Vasectomies are not 100% foolproof, and any good doctor will tell you so, but neither are the lab tests. That’s why you do multiple followup tests to check. There’s even a home test for this now Spermcheck Vasectomy that you can do as many times as you want, since the tubes can re-connect later after the snipping. If the couple did everything right, and the doctor gave the wrong info on the followup test, seems to me they have grounds to sue, but I’m not a lawyer.

  15. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Cat — I don’t doubt that they have the right to sue if someone screwed up (or didn’t inform them that the procedure wasn’t foolproof), but I think it’s one thing to screw for the mistake, and another thing to try to get money for the cost of raising a child that you say you’re happy to have.

  16. Andrea says:

    I see nothing wrong with them suing. The money’s going to benefit the child and any child who is loved will not care that their parents initially didn’t plan to have him. How many children are planned anyway? My husband had a vasectomy and one year later we have a beautiful baby boy whom I could not imagine my life without but if I could have made some money for his college fund and grand world tour, you better believe I would have sued the doctor ::)

  17. DeAnnR says:

    I had to sign a form that said my tubal ligation was not 100% guaranteed. My niece got TL after 3 kids and wound up with an ectopic pregnancy. And I worked with a woman who got pregnant 17 years after her TL. Me, I got cut and cutherized in 1978 and had no pregnancy issues.

    I’d wager that despite the multiple forms of birth control available 40-50% of kids born are unplanned. Not necessarily unwanted, but unplanned. The relationship the child has with the parents will determine if the kid has emotional issues about being either.

    I don’t know the age of this couple or if they have other kids, but if their emptynessterhood was on the horizon and now its back to diapers and daycare, and their retirement plans blown out of the water yeah, I’d sue over the incorect sprem report too.

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