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   Case summaries      Rance v Mid Downes

Rance v Mid Downes Health Authority (1991) 1 All ER 801  Queen's Bench Division

The claimant had a pregnancy scan when she was 26 weeks pregnant. The radiographer suspected there was an abnormality and marked her notes with "??F-Spine".  The consultant looked at the notes and scan and took no further action as there was no firm evidence of an abnormality. The baby was born and had spina bifida. The claimant contends that the Health Authority was negligent in not identifying the abnormality and had deprived her of the option to terminate the pregnancy. The Health authority denied the negligence and argued in any event a termination would have been unlawful at that stage in the pregnancy as the foetus was 'a child capable of being born alive' for the purposes of the Infant Life Preservation Act 1929.

A foetus is protected by the Act where it has reached a stage in it's development where it is capable of living and breathing through its own lungs without any connection to its mother. It followed that the defendant was not negligent in failing to disclose the possible abnormality at the scan.

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