According to Arizona state officials, no it’s not. The new legislature, which states that doctors who fail to clearly articulate an unborn child’s risk of birth defects are protected against malpractice suits, is meant to prevent women from having abortions. The Senate proposed this bill that would eliminate malpractice suits against doctors who allegedly did not make clear the risks of defects or disabilities of an unborn child.
Some parents of children with disabilities or birth defects have attempted to sue doctors for a child that “should not have been born.” They state that if they were made privy to their child’s risks, they would have considered an abortion. The new law would prevent such lawsuits and give anti-abortion doctors a free pass to essentially lie to their patients.
Section A of Senate Bill 1359 states: “a person is not liable for damages in any civil action for wrongful birth based on a claim that, but for an act or omission of the defendant, a child or children would not or should not have been born.”
Senator Nancy Barto, who supports the bill, told KTAR news that “the lawsuits that are being brought imply that the physician is somehow at fault if the child is born with a disability.” Bill supporters, like Barto, say the “wrongful birth” suits are attempts to blame someone for a child’s disability. Doctors who do not fully divulge or properly inform expecting parents of birth defects are protected with the new law. Critics say the new law is against reproductive rights. Women need to know of potential health risks that could harm her during childbirth. Withholding information that could cause pain or death is against the Hippocratic Oath.
Additionally, the bill protects doctors in cases where pregnancies occurred after vasectomies or other sterilization procedures. The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the House before it moves on in Arizona Congress.
More controversy surrounding this proposed law increased, as an Oregon couple won $2.9 million in a wrongful birth lawsuit against doctors who failed to inform them of their daughter’s chromosomal abnormality, which led to her being born with Down syndrome. On one side of the argument, not all parents have the money or resources to raise a child with a disability. Supporters of legislature like the new Arizona bill suggest that doctors should not be blamed for an unwanted birth.
Nearly 90 percent of all mothers informed of an unborn child who will have Down syndrome abort the fetus. The proposed law would give anti-abortion doctors the freedom to fail to identify potential risks and not suffer the consequences of a malpractice suit. Critics say the law essentially says a doctor’s personal values are more important than that of an expecting parent. Parents should have a right to imperative medical information, and they should have the option of becoming or avoiding being special needs parents.
RT.com: Anti-abortion doctors could legally lie in Arizona.
Photo by Daquella Manera