According to several studies, 89 percent or more of expectant mothers who learned their children would have Down syndrome chose to terminate the pregnancies.
The Levys were the parents of two young boys when in November 2006 they were surprised to learn Deborah Levy was pregnant again. Because she was 34, she and her husband were concerned about the possibility of genetic disorders. Experts testified that about 1 in 250 women that age give birth to a baby with Down syndrome. A first-trimester screening estimated Deborah Levy's chances were even higher: 1 in 130.
Roughly 13 weeks into her pregnancy, Deborah Levy went to Legacy's Center for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in North Portland, where Dr. Thomas Jenkins performed a prenatal test called chorionic villus sampling, or CVS for short. A Legacy lab tested a small amount of tissue that the doctor had removed from Levy's womb. The results showed the Levy's daughter had a normal chromosomal profile.
Although in the following weeks two ultrasounds showed abnormalities that sometimes indicate Down syndrome, the Levys testified they were assured that their daughter would not have the chromosomal abnormality. Legacy staff did not advise them to get an amniocentesis, which is another prenatal test that detects Down syndrome.
Within a week of their daughter's birth, they were devastated to find out that the girl, Kalanit, did indeed have Down syndrome.
The Levys contended that Dr. Thomas Jenkins removed maternal tissue -- not fetal tissue -- during the CVS procedure. The suit alleged that Jenkins and lab workers didn't recognize that the tissue was from the mother.