While Texas spent 2021 making it legal for people to sue doctors over performing abortions, a woman in the UK decided to take a different tack — suing her doctor for letting her be born at all.
20-year-old Evie Toombes was born with spina bifida, a defect of the spine that limits mobility and can cause a number of additional health issues that impact the quality of daily life.
According to Evie, this could have been prevented if her mother’s doctor had advised her to take folic acid before getting pregnant. So she took him to court for “wrongful conception.”
Evie’s mother, Caroline, told the judge that Dr. Philip Mitchell advised her that if she had a good diet, folic acid was not a necessary supplement to take prior to getting pregnant. She argued that, as her pregnancy with Evie was carefully planned, if he had informed her the supplement could prevent issues like spina bifida, she would have taken it and postponed getting pregnant until her levels were higher. Thus, she believes, she would have wound up with a healthier baby, albeit not Evie.
Mitchell’s lawyer argued that Caroline could have already been pregnant and that he stood by his medical advice.
Not long after news of the lawsuit went public, Evie won her case, in what has already been considered a landmark ruling.
“[Caroline Toombes] was not advised about the relationship between folic acid supplementation and the prevention of spina bifida/neural tube defects,” the judge ruled. “Had she been provided with the correct recommended advice, she would have delayed attempts to conceive. In the circumstances, there would have been a later conception, which would have resulted in a normal healthy child.”
As of early December, it was unknown how much Evie would be compensated for the win, although she was initially seeking “millions of dollars needed to cover the costs of living with her condition,” which is expected only to deteriorate as she gets older.
In the meantime, Evie has made the best of her situation, sharing her journey on social media and pursuing her passion for showjumping, with which she hopes to eventually compete in the Paralympics.