July 16, 2004

How Much Pain And Suffering Has John Edwards Caused?

Reading a National Journal article on John Edwards, I stopped dead at the following:

Edwards also won a fortune suing obstetricians and hospitals on behalf of babies born with cerebral palsy, at a time of accumulating medical evidence that botched deliveries are very rarely the cause of that disease. Cerebral palsy lawsuits have spurred doctors to order millions of medically unwarranted cesarean deliveries in recent decades.

I have three children and I've helped my wife get through two cesarean operations. Each one of those operations caused several days of extra pain and suffering over the one child who was able to have a normal delivery. That pain and suffering is significant and mostly impacts the woman though daddy gets inconvenienced too. Now it would be a little unfair to condemn Edwards as trial lawyer. As a hired advocate for his clients, he was supposed to have a narrow perspective in favor of them.

As a Senator, though, he's supposed to be a representative of all the people in his state. It's unlikely that nobody's ever told him what the consequences were of his actions on behalf of cerebral palsy victims were, those millions of women, bent over in pain and unable to care for their babies as they would have liked to, missing extra days of work, at elevated risk of life threatening complications at subsequent pregnancies. And if he doesn't know, he just wasn't doing his job.

Since he played a pretty large part in creating this problem (and how many others like it?) you would think that John Edwards would want to be part of the solution, a voice for sensible tort reform that would keep the trial system's benefits for victims without the nasty, and growing, side effects that hurt other people. You would think wrong.

Instead, John Edwards has been part of the current system's trial lawyer defense team. No shame for all those invisible victims he helped create, they only count when they're paying fees. Some people don't think that John Edwards' background is a liability. They're right. It is his actions, both as a lawyer and a senator that are the real liability.

Posted by TMLutas at July 16, 2004 08:53 AM | TrackBack


What has cerebral palsy to do with c sections?

And what has that to do with:

"those millions of women, bent over in pain and unable to care for their babies as they would have liked to, missing extra days of work, at elevated risk of life threatening complications at subsequent pregnancies"

Cerebral palsy is a major problem mainly in short term births. It can be also caused by poor delivery technique. I was not aware that c sections contributed to cerebral palsy. I would imagine that a c section would result in very few cerebral palsy cases as it is a brain injury.. It's hard on the woman, but done right, easy on the child.

I know a bit about this as I have had girlfriends with both problems.

I don't see how Edwards can be held resposible for any of this by representing people in medical cases. He certainly has no causal connection I can see to the "million of women" except to get some of them a decent settlement. He is by all accounts a very good lawyer and likly to win in almost any arena.

Pretty strange.

Do What Now ???

Posted by: PenGun at July 16, 2004 05:24 PM

I hit post instead of preview, oh well.

I'll point out the reason for this is largly your very adverserial legal system and your free enterprise medical system.

I do see how doctors under threat of litigation will do c sections to mimimize their risk but it's your system that causes this. It is not some individual's fault for operating successfully within this system.

Do What Now ???

Posted by: PenGun at July 16, 2004 05:36 PM

I took care to exonerate Edwards the lawyer. As he works within the system, he did an honorable job in a lousy system. But when his job shifted, when it became represent everybody instead of represent your client, shape the system instead of work within it, Edwards fell down on the job and for that he deserves blame.

He has to have known that his cerebral palsy stuff was causing a lot of extra c sections. He couldn't do anything about it as a lawyer. He could as a Senator. He's been one of the foremost voices against tort reform. He is loyal to his colleagues and his money, not to the entire people he was sent to Washington to represent.

That's despicable.

Posted by: TM Lutas at July 16, 2004 08:45 PM


Is there a blizzard in hell? You and TM almost agreeing.

I think that part of TM’s point is that part of the problem is the tort law and Edwards is opposed to to reform.

When he was a lawyer in private practice he should represent his client. As a senator his client is the people of North Carolina and the US, whom, on this issue at least, he seems to be misrepresenting.

Posted by: Hank at July 16, 2004 09:44 PM

The current litigation and historic litigation surrounding cerebral palsy has led to physicians/obstetricians performing and increased number of c-sections thinking that this would decrease chances in a complicated or perceived complicated vaginal birth of cerebral palsy. The c-section rate over the past 10-20 years has tripled -- and the number of cerebral palsy cases is still the same. There is no conclusive evidence that birth trauma/anoxia etc. causes cerebral palsy -- it is yet unknown.

Women who undergo c-sections are "laid-up" longer than women who undergo vaginal births. They have more restrictions following childbirth than a woman who delivers vaginally. In addition to that, there is a likely chance that future deliveries by that woman will have to be via c-section rather than vaginal. Complications of a "vaginal birth after c-section" can include many things including rupture of the uterus, hemorrhage, and death of the child and/or mother. Many are not willing to take the chance of a vaginal birth after c-section.

So, this is one indirect way women and their health have been affected by litigation involving cerebral palsy. HOpe this answers some of your questions.

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