A GOP Governor’s race has put a 20-year-old Texas cerebral palsy lawsuit in the spotlight for the first time in nearly two decades.
In 1990, Mark and Karla Miller were expecting a baby. When Karla went into labor four months early and medical complications required that doctors deliver her infant prematurely, the couple was devastated. Knowing that such an early birth would come hand in hand with dire medical problems, including blindness and mental retardation, the couple asked to deliver the baby and not subject the child to experimental and expensive medical interventions.
However, to the couple’s shock, the Houston hospital refused to give the baby to her mother and instead kept her alive despite severe brain bleeding and other problems. Twenty years later, Sydney Miller can’t see, walk, or speak, suffers from cerebral palsy and requires around-the-clock care. She is quadriplegic.
The Millers sued the hospital for going against their wishes for their daughter’s medical treatment and a Harris County jury awarded them $29.4 million to pay for Sydney’s lifetime of medical costs as well as $13.4 million in damages. However, the Texas Supreme Court overturned the ruling.
This Texas cerebral palsy lawsuit is now being used as part of a right to life campaign by GOP candidates Rick Scott and Bill McCollum. While both are using the story, and Scott’s involvement with Columbia/HCA, to solidify their platform on abortion, the central idea of this story seems to be lost: the Millers had their right to decide on the medical treatment of their baby taken away.