State Capitol News
9:15 am
Thu February 9, 2012

AZ Senate Committee Limits Wrongful Birth Suits

A Senate panel voted Wednesday to limit the ability of parents to sue when a doctor's mistake results in the unwanted birth of a child. 

One type of lawsuit targeted involves claims that a doctor failed to do tests or diagnose a prenatal defect, depriving the parent of the opportunity to abort the child. This legislation would preclude the parents from demanding the doctor pay for the cost of raising that child. Deborah Sheasby, an attorney for the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy, said the doctor's action did not cause the child to be disabled.

"The doctor's action only contributed to the fact that the child was born alive," said Sheasby.  "And so saying that's a harm, that's an injury to the parent or the child to be alive, just as a matter of principle, that's what this bill is trying to address. That's the wrong message to send that because you were born with disabilities you're worth less."

Sen. Linda Lopez said she sees something more sinister in letting doctors avoid big payouts when they fail to detect defects.

"The desire of the folks who are promoting this bill," said Lopez, "is to further limit the ability of women and families in this state to make decisions about their family and what their family's going to look like."

The legislation also would preclude parents from seeking seek child-raising expenses when they took action to prevent conception in the first place,  such as a botched.