March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017

Joe Pojman, Ph.D.
512.477.1244 (o)

AUSTIN — Today the Texas Senate gave preliminary OK to SB 25, bill to ban “wrongful birth” lawsuits, on a 21-9 vote. The bill is expected to be passed by the Senate tomorrow and go on to the House.

Authored by State Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), SB 25 bans a type of lawsuit in which parents of a child born with a disability, including Down syndrome, claim they were not informed of the disability in time to abort the child. The “injury” the parents suffer is having given birth to a disabled child rather than aborting that child. The parents seek to collect, from a physician who treated them during pregnancy, the costs of raising their child for his or her entire life even though the physician did nothing to cause the disability.

State Representative Ron Simmons (R-Denton) has authored the “companion” bill, HB 434, in the House.

“We commend Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Brandon Creighton, and those members of the Senate who support this life-affirming bill,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. “SB 25 reverses a decades-old injustice and bad public policy that devalues babies, both unborn and born, who have a disability. SB 25 will eliminate wrongful birth lawsuits while holding doctors accountable to practicing good medicine.”

The bills are supported by a coalition of major pro-life organizations, including the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, Texans for Life Coalition, and Texas Alliance for Life.

Wrongful birth lawsuits promote, rather than discourage, abortion. Wrongful birth liability encourages physicians to over-cautiously seek out all potential disabilities and then to promote abortion to avoid liability. If the baby is aborted, there can be no wrongful birth lawsuit. Thus, this cause of action encourages abortion rather than discourages abortion, running counter to the policy of the State of Texas to promote childbirth over abortion. There are many examples of this policy in law.

Two of the most prominent are the Prenatal Protect Act and the Alternatives to Abortion program. The Prenatal Protection act protects unborn children’s right to be born by recognizing their personhood, thereby making killing unborn children a crime of homicide. The Alternatives to Abortion program funds pro-life pregnancy resource centers to help pregnant women choose childbirth.

Twelve states have eliminated wrongful birth lawsuits by statute — Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Utah, and three states by have eliminated it by court decision — Georgia, Kentucky and North Carolina. Another seven states don’t recognize those lawsuits at all.

A claim by NARAL Pro-choice Texas and repeated by The Huffington Post that “SB 25 would allow doctors to lie to their patients” is patently false. SB 25 explicitly says the law “may not be construed to eliminate any duty of a physician or other health care practitioner under any other applicable law.” That means doctors treating pregnant women continue to be required to give available information to their patients.

Current law, as enforced by the Texas Medical Board, requires physicians to tell their patients about the availability of prenatal diagnostic tests and, if given, the results of those tests. Failure to do so risks disciplinary action including possible fines, suspension, and loss of license.

Supporting SB 25:

Paul Bettencourt (R), Brian Birdwell (R), Dawn Buckingham (R), Konni Burton (R), Brandon Creighton (R), Craig Estes (R), Bob Hall (R), Kelly Hancock (R), Donald Huffines (R), Joan Huffman (R), Bryan Hughes (R), Lois Kolkhorst (R), Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D), Jane Nelson (R), Robert Nichols (R), Charles Perry (R), Charles Schwertner (R), Kel Seliger (R), Larry Taylor (R), Van Taylor (R), Judith Zaffirini (D)

Opposing SB 25:

Sylvia Garcia (D), Chuy Hinojosa (D), Jose Menendez (D), Borris Miles (D), Jose Rodriguez (D), Carlos Uresti (D), Kirk Watson (D), Royce West (D), John Whitmire (D)


Donna Campbell (R)

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