Texas Senate approves controversial bill barring ‘wrongful birth’ lawsuits

Posted at 10:09 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 22:09:05-04

A controversial bill that would protect doctors from “wrongful birth” lawsuits has passed the Texas senate.

Senate Bill 25 prevents parents from suing their doctor if their baby is born with a disability — a move abortion-rights supporters say will result in doctors lying to patients about the health of fetuses.

Supporters of the measure say it is needed to protect doctors from “wrongful birth” lawsuits and to protect the rights of the disabled.

“Senate Bill 25 will send a message that Texas does not believe that a life, in and of itself, is an injury in which parents need a damage payment,” said state Sen. Brandon Creighton, the bill’s author and a Republican from a town about 45 miles north of Houston.

Opponents said the bill would open the door to doctors to lying to patients about the health of their fetuses when they feel that the patient might seek an abortion if told that the fetus has a long-term health problem.

“SB 25 is a not-so-subtle way of giving medical personnel the opportunity to impose the religious beliefs on pregnant women by withholding information about the condition of their fetus and depriving them of making an informed decision about continuing with their pregnancy,” Margaret Johnson said on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Texas.

The issue of “wrongful birth” suits in Texas date to a 1975 case, Jacobs v. Theimer, decided by the state Supreme Court. Dortha Jean Jacobs contracted rubella during the first trimester of her pregnancy and “subsequently gave birth to a child whose major organs were defective,” according to Justia law website.

The bill will now head to the Texas House for approval.