Jen Gann was talking with someone earlier this year about her toddler Dudley's cystic fibrosis, a noncurable genetic disorder that afflicts sufferers with thick mucus in the lungs, causing lung infections and, for many, early death. In her piece for the Cut, Gann says that when the woman she was conversing with asked her what she would have done had prenatal tests revealed Dudley had CF, she thought: "I do know exactly what it is I would have done." She says she and her husband, Tag, had discussed their options even before she became pregnant, and they'd jointly agreed they would have an abortion if something was wrong with the fetus. Which leads to the unique situation Gann now finds herself in: trying to save her son's life by showing she would've ended it before it started.
That's because she and Tag have filed a wrongful-birth lawsuit, a complaint against a practitioner for failing to diagnose or inform parents-to-be about the possibility of a severe condition. When plaintiffs win these cases, the awarded funds go toward the often "astronomically high" costs of the child's medical care. "In other words, a mother desperate to help her child declares that she would not have had that child," Gann writes. She documents the pushback from anti-abortion activists for this type of suit, her "biological remorse," and the hatred she sometimes feels for mothers who choose to not even get tested. This, despite her concession that advances in CF have extended life spans and furthered patients' hope: "It's something almost beyond me to imagine, looking into Dudley's eyes and saying, 'I'm sorry I didn't save you, from your own life.'" Gann's story here, including her chat with the woman who set the stage for wrongful-birth suits. (Read more Longform stories.)