The doctor is in deep trouble

A German gynecologist is forced to pay child support after his patient's contraceptive implant fails. What's wrong with this picture?

Carol Lloyd
November 17, 2006 6:10AM (UTC)

It's one thing to call for the men responsible for making babies to cough up the cash and provide for their chitlins, but a court in Germany this week has redefined the concept of responsibility for children with a ruling that will no doubt stand as a low moment in judicial discretion. According to the BBC, a gynecologist who inserted a contraceptive patch that left his patient chagrined and with child has been ordered to pay child support.

In response to the patient's argument that she had to give up her embryonic teaching career to care for her child, the court awarded her 600 Euros a month (about $750) until the child is 18. I usually don't side with doctors when they argue they simply aren't to blame for their mistakes, but this takes the strudel. Imagine the class action suits that could be brewing against condom companies! No form of birth control is foolproof -- anytime two people get it on in a Biblical sense, there are, as we mothers like to say, consequences.


Where was the father in this twisted scenario? According to the BBC, he's also tapping into the malpractice gravy train and reportedly will be compensated as well. Why the parents went to all this trouble to make it official that they never wanted their child is unclear -- the mother's motivation is particularly perplexing since she seems to be a child-friendly sort. She was a kindergarten teacher and has since had a second child. If it was such a burden, she and the father could have given the child up for adoption and moved on with their lives.

Germany has rather evolved child support laws (so much so that there's a vociferous father's rights movement fighting said laws). All non-resident parents are obligated to provide child support and fathers must take DNA tests to establish paternity if the mother so petitions. This law seems have a felicitous effect on government finances, for though one in five households is run by a single parent, only 10 percent of single-parent households receive government assistance. But this odd story -- which so values the woman's right to choose to be a mother -- also may have unintended consequences if doctors are afraid to risk implanting contraceptive devices for fear of more unwanted pregnancies.

Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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