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News

Texas ‘Wrongful Birth’ Bill Advances to the State Senate

March 2, 2017

Sen. Brandon Creighton says he's protecting disabled children

The Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs unanimously voted this week to advance Senate Bill 25, which would prevent parents from suing doctors on the basis of a “wrongful birth,” the San Antonio Current reported. In other words, the parents of a severely disabled child would no longer be able to sue doctors if they felt they were not properly informed about the extent of their child’s disability or advised on their options, abortion included.

The bill’s author, Republican Sen. Brandon Creighton, argued that wrongful birth lawsuits could motivate doctors to encourage abortion in order to avoid the possibility of legal action, the Dallas Morning News reported. He said the bill defends the rights of disabled children.

Margaret Johnson, a member of the League of Women Voters of Texas, testified against the bill. “This bill places a unreasonable restriction on the constitutional right of a woman to make an informed decision about whether or not to have an abortion,” she said. “SB 25 is a not-so-subtle way to give medical personnel the opportunity to impose religious beliefs on women.”

Creighton says that’s not the case, though his office issued a press release calling the bill a “victory” for the state’s anti-abortion movement. “We want to make it very clear that we are not allowing doctors to choose what information to give their patients based on their personal beliefs,” he said. “This can be ensured by other means rather than this particular cause of action called wrongful birth.”

In 1975, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that parents could sue for the added cost of raising a disabled child if doctors did not adequately inform them of their child’s condition, according to KVUE. Texas malpractice lawyers have said these lawsuits already are extremely rare, because attorneys are unlikely to take them. Dallas attorney Kay Van Wey told the Dallas Morning News, “The thing is, I’ve practiced medical malpractice for 30 years and I have never brought one of these.”

[H/T San Antonio Current]