State Capitol News
8:49 am
Wed March 7, 2012

AZ Senate Votes to Ban Wrongful Life Lawsuits

These lawsuits are filed by parents who claim a doctor was negligent in failing to detect a birth defect -- and that failure deprived them of the ability to decide whether to have an abortion. Generally speaking, the parents seek to have the doctor pay the extra costs of raising a child with special needs. This legislation would make such lawsuits illegal, with proponents saying that the birth of a live child, even one with birth defects, is not a wrong that should result in litigation. Senator Linda Lopez said that lets negligent doctors off the hook.

"When they use reasonable care they should not have repercussions," she said. "But when they do not use reasonable care, there should be repercussions. And by eliminating the ability to sue on a wrongful life case, we've eliminated the ability of parents to care for their children with deformities."

Senator Nancy Barto said doctors could still be sued for wrongful life if they purposely withheld information from parents.

"This bill protects providers that have not done anything wrong but are being used because there's a deep pocket and there's an unfortunate birth or situation," she said. 

Barto's bill, which now goes to the House, would still allow wrongful pregnancy lawsuits where a couple could sue for the costs of raising a child if a doctor botched a sterilization procedure.