Upon learning that their fetus was diagnosed with Down syndrome, Tim's parents sought a late-term abortion at the Städtische Frauenklinik hospital. Tim was born prematurely in the twenty-fifth week of pregnancy as the result of the failed procedure. Doctors had expected the child would soon die and thus withheld treatment, but when the child continued to breathe after 9 hours, doctors decided to treat him. He became a focus of the debate surrounding abortion, especially late-term abortion, and its legal and ethical consequences.
The child's biological parents chose not to raise the child, so he remained in a children's clinic in Oldenburg until March 1998, when he was taken in by a foster family. In 2006, his foster parents were awarded the Federal Cross of Merit for taking care of the boy as well as another child born with Down syndrome. His foster mother claims he exhibits autistic tendencies. In 2003 Tim participated in a session of dolphin therapy which increased his alertness and presence. In 2008 it was reported that Tim was capable of walking and running on his own.
Medical texts have used this case as an example to illustrate the need for proper precautions when performing abortions and prenatal screening. The child's biological parents sued the clinic and the gynaecologist for damages and compensation, claiming that they had not been informed that their child could survive an abortion at that stage.Bundestag member Hubert Hüppe (CDU) also tried to press charges on the separate grounds that it was not clear whether a medical justification was present in this case, and because the doctor's duty of care had not been fulfilled for several hours, which he claimed defied Article 3 of the German constitution ("No person shall be disfavoured because of disability"). The clinic denied these claims, claiming that the mother delayed the diagnosis. Initially charges of battery were supposed to be pressed against the physician who had performed the abortion and left Tim without any form of medical attention. No charges were ever brought against the doctor and the investigations were ended. In 2004, he was fined ninety days' pay for failing to care for the newborn.