‘Wrongful Birth’ lawsuits simply wrong

March 18, 2012 by  

Liberal bloggers from around the country caused needless hysteria over my sponsorship of Arizona’s SB 1359, wrongful birth; wrongful life tort reform, claiming it gives doctors license to lie to their patients.  It doesn’t.  That would be wrong.

The measure, signed into law by Governor Brewer, will protect physicians who have done nothing wrong from predatory lawsuits in cases where patients sue their doctors, arguing they would have aborted their child if the doctor had correctly diagnosed a birth defect or fetal anomaly while their baby was in utero.   But ask yourself:

  • Why should physicians who have done everything “by the book” – except know the unknowable – remain in legal crosshairs?
  • Is life with a disability not a life worth living?

Wrongful life/wrongful birth lawsuits implicitly endorse the view that the life of a disabled child is worth less than the life of a healthy child.

In fact, Peri Jude Radecic from the AZ Center for Disability Law agrees and wrote, in part, in support of SB 1359:

All children and adults with disabilities have value.

The message wrongful life and wrongful birth lawsuits sends to persons with disabilities is that life with disabilities is not worth living.  Put another way, a parent or child with a disability would have been better off, or not legally damaged, if that child with a disability did not exist.  Legal theories behind wrongful life and wrongful birth are abhorrent and devalue the lives of persons with disabilities.

ACDL’s vision is a society that focuses on people’s abilities rather disabilities. At our core, we believe that disability does not diminish a person’s basic right to independence, or a person’s responsibility to participate in, and contribute to all aspects of society.

ACDL recognizes the complex legal, moral and ethical issues involved in this debate.   From the perspective of the disability community, the cost of recognizing wrongful life and wrongful birth may be too high.”

But does the law protect doctors who intentionally withhold information from patients or are negligent in providing the proper standard of care during the course of prenatal treatment?

Absolutely not.  That would violate the Medical Practice Act and parents would continue to have legitimate legal recourse in such cases.

Nine states specifically prohibit such lawsuits by statute: ID, IN, MI, MN, MO, ND, PA, SD, UT.  Now Arizona will be added to the list.

Why the outrage from out-of-state bloggers?  My guess is this important med mal reform got caught up in what Democrats are calling a “war on women” in an election year – as all other policies remotely touching abortion have been – even those as common sense as this.

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