Doctors should never be able to withhold vital information from expecting parents and not face repercussions for their deceit. This could become a reality if Senate Bill 25, authored by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, passes the Senate vote. This bill removes “wrongful birth” as a basis for a lawsuit — stripping parents from their right to sue doctors that do not disclose all the information relating to the reproduction of their child.
A wrongful birth occurs when a child is born with severe disabilities and the parents were not warned by their healthcare providers of such conditions. This term was first introduced in a Texas court case, Jacobs v Thrimer, in which a mother was not told by her doctor that her baby had contracted rubella in the first trimester of pregnancy. Not knowing this information meant that no treatment was administered — Mrs. Jacobs thus gave birth to a child whose major organs were defective.
Doctors have a responsibility to reveal information to parents about their child and to advise on the best course of action — including abortion. Creighton said that allowing lawsuits could promote doctors to encourage abortion as a solution to any disability found in order to avoid litigation. This notion is not only naive but also speculative as lawsuits on the basis of wrongful birth are rare.
“The thing is, I’ve practiced medical malpractice for 30 years and I have never brought one of these,” said Dallas attorney Kay Van Wey. “I know all the other experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Dallas, and I don’t know any of them who have brought these lawsuits.”
In preparation for this year’s legislative session, testimony from the public on wrongful birth lawsuits was heard by a Senate committee last year. The Texas Medical Board told the panel it had only received five complaints in the past decade relating to wrongful births — three of these were subsequently dismissed.
SB 25 also contends it is protecting doctors from being sued because complications during a pregnancy can go unnoticed. While this can be argued, the bill’s current state is nothing but a smokescreen for the anti-abortion movement. One of the bill’s supporters, Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, stated “This is a pro-life bill,” when speaking to Dallas Morning News about SB 25. Simmons also went on to say that parents arguing for their right to abortion, “is not OK”.
Parents, especially mothers, should have access to honest advice about their options when faced with a child that is developing disabilities while in the womb. Abortion should be one of those options and limiting this right is unfair. Changes would have to be made to SB 25 before it becomes law for it to protect doctors and a woman’s right to an abortion. Unfortunately, the Senate Committee on State Affairs have already voted to advance this bill. The bill now awaits the state’s full Senate vote.
Suazo is a communication studies senior from Honduras.