Linda and Jeff love their 2-year-old girl dearly. But had they been told of her debilitating spinal deformity before her birth, they would have chosen abortion, they say.

The Auckland couple are fighting for accident compensation because the health workers who read Linda's 20-week pregnancy scan failed to detect spina bifida in the fetus.

The clinic has apologised to the couple but they say the mistake denied them information that would have led to them choosing a termination. A reviewer found in their favour, saying the pregnancy was a "personal injury" in terms of ACC's legislation and Linda was entitled to cover.

On appeal by ACC, the Auckland District Court overturned the reviewer's decision and the case is now headed for the High Court next year.

Linda, aged 28, said last night her daughter Bonnie, the couple's first child, was moderately disabled.

"She's not walking. She has a little walker she uses sometimes. She gets frustrated and wants to be carried.

"She seems to so far be developing really well cognitively. She's had speech therapy. She's mostly come up to where she should be."

Bonnie, whose spine was found to be exposed when she was born in May 2007, had surgery soon afterwards.

She may need a wheelchair and a catheter in future and has a surgical shunt device that removes excess fluid to prevent pressure on her brain.

"She's a lovely, lovely little girl," her mother said. "She's really placid and is just starting to develop her 2-year-old stubborn streak."

Linda recognises what some may see as a contradiction between the love she and Jeff feel for their daughter and their belief that they would have opted for an abortion, but said they must be seen as two separate times, with two different sets of information.

"She's doing a lot better than they thought she would when she was born. We were told all the awful things that would happen to her: 'She won't walk', and the surgeons told us she will never do this and this and this. As your child, who you love and would never give up for anything in the world, is growing up, it's definitely harder to say you would have terminated.

"Once she is born, it's a separate issue from if the scan had been picked up."

But Linda says she and Jeff would have opted for an abortion had the scan been correctly reported to them.

"It would have been a hard decision but, I think, a decision that we would have made."

If they had been told of the spina bifida and proceeded with the pregnancy, they would have always thought, "Is it fair to bring a child into the world who has a possibility of having a really difficult life".

* The names in this article have been changed at the request of the family.