Texas Senate Panel Approves Bill Prohibiting ‘wrongful Birth' Lawsuits

AUSTIN — The Senate State Affairs committee unanimously approved Monday a bill detailing an anti-abortion priority for the session: removing "wrongful birth" as a cause of action in medical malpractice lawsuits. Wrongful birth suits allow parents of a child born with a genetic disability to sue their doctor if they say they weren't properly warned about the potential for the disability or counseled on their options, including the parents' choice to have an abortion based on the severity of the condition. Sen. Brandon Creighton, the author of the bill, said allowing the lawsuits could encourage doctors to seek out every possible disability and even promote abortions to avoid litigation. He also said he takes issue with the idea that there are "wrongful" births."Children born with disabilities ought to have the same rights as any abled person," said Creighton, R-Conroe. "Their rights are just as important as others."Nine states have enacted bans on wrongful birth lawsuits including Arizona, South Dakota and Indiana. In Texas, medical malpractice attorneys say the lawsuits are rare, even nonexistent. "The thing is, I've practiced medical malpractice for 30 years and I have never brought one of these," said Kay Van Wey, an attorney in Dallas. "I know all the other experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Dallas, and I don't know any of them who have brought these lawsuits." Douglas Wood, another Dallas attorney, said the cases are rare because finding an expert witness, assessing damages and trying to find a sympathetic jury would likely deter an attorney from taking them. "I don't think anybody would handle a case like that," he said. "I guess it's theoretically possible."Wrongful birth lawsuits are different than wrongful pregnancy cases, in which women can sue physicians if they become pregnant after receiving an operation to prevent them from having children. They're also different from wrongful life suits, which are brought on behalf of disabled children and aren't recognized in Texas.Last year, a Senate committee invited testimony on wrongful birth lawsuits from the public in preparation for this year's legislative session. A representative from the Texas Medical Board told the panel they have received only five complaints relating to wrongful birth in the past decade, three of which were dismissed.  Continue reading...

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