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Texas Senate looking at bill to ban punishment of doctors for ‘wrongful birth’ of disabled kids

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

AUSTIN, Texas, March 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Texas State Senate is considering a bill that would prevent parents from suing doctors for "wrongful birth" if their child is born with a disability. 

Senate Bill 25 has generated panic from the abortion lobby, which says the bill would "allow doctors to lie" to their patients.

But the bill's sponsor, Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, says this absolutely isn't true.

"The fake news has been rampant on this issue," Creighton told LifeSiteNews. "It’s been heavy across social media using a Huffington Post article that didn’t for some reason bother to ask me to participate in [an] interview."

That parents may currently sue a doctor for damages if their child has a disability and went unaborted "promotes a mindset that disabled children have less value in some way [than] children that are born without those disabilities," said Creighton. This "archaic cause of action" allowed under Texas law right now isn't "in line with Texas values."

The bill "certainly follows a growing trend across the country to remove these statutes from state law," Creighton pointed out. "It is just overly punitive toward physicians to require them … to be liable for damages for rearing a child with disabilities only because that physician did exactly what they were supposed to do and provided a service to deliver life into the world."

In 2012, for example, an Oregon couple won a $3 million "wrongful birth" lawsuit because their daughter wasn't diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb. Had her parents known, they would have aborted her, they argued. In 2011, a Florida couple won $4.5 million in damages because they would have aborted their son had they known of his disability before his birth.

If SB 25 passes, it will become Texas law that "a cause of action may not arise, and damages may not be awarded, on behalf of any person, based on the claim that but for the act or omission of another, a person would not have been permitted to have been born alive but would have been aborted."

However, this "may not be construed to eliminate any duty of a physician or other healthcare practitioner under any other applicable law," the bill says

The Huffington Post article says: "If, for example, an OB-GYN discovered during an ultrasound that a fetus had severe abnormalities and failed to inform his or her patient ― knowing the mother might chose to terminate the pregnancy ― that mother would be prevented from later bringing what is known as a 'wrongful birth' suit."

This is an inaccurate way of putting it, Creighton said. The bill is not about creating some "sort of gateway for doctors to … have less than good intentions towards their patients and expecting mothers."

"If it’s within a standard of care today, between a physician and a patient, it remains that same standard of care the day after [this] bill passes. ... We would never support a law that changes any ethical standards for physicians," said Creighton.

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He said that the way the law is currently written, doctors actually might be incentivized to tell mothers that their children have disabilities when they may not, resulting in those children being aborted so the doctor doesn't face a potential lawsuit.

Certain prenatal testing that is "reimbursed by insurance companies" has "over a 10 percent margin of error," Creighton explained. So, "with this statute in place, it’s conceivable that some physicians might even choose" to recommend abortion if such a test indicates the baby may have a disability "just simply because … this statute exists."

"Holding a physician liable or accountable only because they provided a service to deliver life that ultimately was determined to be disabled – we just think that’s an awful reason in the court system to ask a physician to participate in the costs associated with rearing that child," said Creighton. "We also think it’s terrible to imply that a child with disabilities has somehow less value than a child that doesn’t and that that somehow should be defined as an injury."

SB 25 received a unanimous committee vote. Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat who has voted in favor of late-term abortion before, voted for SB 25.

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