National Post

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Thursday, July 15, 1999

Pro-choicers anger mother sued by son

Janice Tibbetts
Southam News

OTTAWA - Cynthia Dobson, fresh with anger from her disabled son's failed fight to sue for being injured in the womb, has turned against the pro-choice movement because she says it has deprived her child of the money he needs for a secure future.

"You have just won a victory based on someone else's suffering," the New Brunswick woman said in a letter published yesterday in several newspapers.

"I am angry at those who find it necessary to use others' hardship as a way of furthering themselves or their cause."

The Supreme Court ruled last Friday that Ms. Dobson's six-year-old son, Ryan, cannot sue his mother for being born with cerebral palsy only hours after she crashed her car on a snowy road near Moncton in March, 1993.

The court decided that allowing the lawsuit to go ahead, which would have permitted Ryan to seek money from his mother's insurance company, would be an unacceptable intrusion on the lives of pregnant women.

Gerald Price, Ryan's maternal grandfather, launched the lawsuit on his behalf, alleging Ms. Dobson was negligent in not avoiding the crash.

Ms. Dobson, who has a severe head injury and partial paralysis as a result of the car accident and believes she will never be able to earn a paycheque to raise her disabled child, was technically her son's legal opponent but she wanted him to win. She wrote her letter only hours after the court released its ruling.

"I figure that in my 33 years on this Earth I have never felt such sadness and anger in my life," she wrote.

Her target was not the Supreme Court, but the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League.

She said the pro-choice group should have stayed out of the battle because it was no more than an insurance case that would have given her child, after he was born, the same right to sue for damages that any other person has when they're injured in a car accident.

"Ryan's right crystallized the moment he was taken from me -- alive," she wrote, echoing an argument made by her son's lawyers that was successful in the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.

Ms. Dobson, who was a co-ordinator at New Brunswick's mental health commission before the crash in her Chevy Sprint ended her career, said in an interview that she never had a strong opinion on foetal rights before Ryan's premature birth by Caesarean section at 27 weeks.

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