By: Brandon Creighton
San Antonio Express News
Fake news has been circulating regarding a bill I authored this legislative session. Senate Bill 25, a pro-life tort reform bill, removes the wrongful birth cause of action from statute. I have been mentioned in articles in theHuffington Post, CNN, TIME, as well as included in a tweet from Chelsea Clinton. Because of the misinformation, I would like to clarify the intent of the bill.
These critics of the bill are grossly inaccurate. In no way does the bill allow doctors to lie to their patients. In fact, the legislation strengthens current statute by explicitly stating it does not eliminate any current duty of the physician, including informed consent.
Senate Bill 25 prohibits the wrongful birth cause of action in which parents can seek legal action against their doctors. Put simply, a physician who does no wrong to the patient or baby and delivers life that ultimately is disabled is not responsible for compensating the family for the cost of rearing the child.
This legislation also will end the negative precedent that disabled people should not have been born, are an extreme burden on their parents, and do not have the same rights and protections as completely able people.
The wrongful birth cause of action was first recognized in the Texas Supreme Court in 1975 in Jacobs v Theimer. The parents of a disabled child argued they would have terminated the pregnancy if they had known about the disabilities beforehand.
Under current law, and not impacted by this bill, there are several ways to hold bad-acting doctors accountable through lawsuits and ramifications from the Texas Medical Board. A grievance process remains in place through the Texas Medical Board where physicians ultimately can lose a license to practice medicine by omitting important information their patient deserves.
This legislation follows the growing trend across the country to remove this statute from law. Twelve other states have eliminated this archaic cause of action that I believe is overly punitive toward doctors and sends a message to children with disabilities and their families that the life of a disabled child is an injury for which someone should be compensated.
The bill passed unanimously (including the vote of a pro-choice Democrat) out of the Senate State Affairs Committee. Just this week, the bill passed off the Senate floor with widespread support from the majority of the Senate, including Democratsand female senators, and has now been sent to the House of Representatives.
As a word of caution, please be careful about “news” that is reported without factual basis and be sure to read the pieces of legislation, especially when others are expressing opinions and judgments regarding that topic.
Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, is the Texas senator for District 4. Call his Austin office at 512-463-0104.