Texas Law Would Permit Doctors to Lie to Patients About the Health of Their Fetuses

Everyone should be highly skeptical of state-sponsored eugenics.



Texas state Sen. Charles Creighton (R) has introduced Senate Bill 25 that would eliminate the tort of wrongful birth. As FindLaw explains:

Doctors have a duty to inform their patients about any known risks or complications involved in a pregnancy. Failing to do so can expose healthcare professionals to liability for medical malpractice. Plaintiffs in a wrongful birth lawsuit often claim that because they didn't have the medical information necessary to make an informed decision on whether to conceive or to carry a fetus to term, their child was born with significant birth defects.

The new Senate bill reads:

A cause of action may not arise, and damages may not be awarded, on behalf of any person based on the claim that but for the act or omission of another, a person would not have been permitted to have been born alive but would have been aborted.

During the hearing on the bill, opponents argued that it would enable doctors to substitute their moral views for those of their patients.

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, speaking on behalf of League of Women Voters of Texas, according to KTLA television. … Waco resident Cheryl Foster [added]: SB 25 is a flagrant admission of guilt on the part of Texas state lawmakers in their efforts to control women's lives. This Legislature has been on a mission to strip women of their reproductive rights, and this bill acknowledges that you do not want to be held accountable for your actions.

At the hearing, the bill's chief sponsor Sen. Creighton explained he believed that current law encourages doctors to promote abortion as way to avoid litigation. He said:

There's also concern without the bill being passed that physicians may advise in way just to prevent being sued personally. They may provide advice that is improper just to avoid litigation.

Improper advice? Telling a woman about the health of her fetus is not advice; it's medical information. Physicians are in no way precluded from explaining options to the prospective parents. For example, parents who are against abortion could use the information to arrange for better care after the birth of their disabled infants. As background, it turns out that at least a third of parents whose fetuses are prenatally diagnosed with Down's syndrome choose not to terminate their pregnancies.

Finally, proponents of the bill countered that patients to whom physicians have lied would still be able to sue for gross negligence and malpractice.

Everyone should be highly skeptical of state-sponsored eugenics, that is, government officials making decisions about how its citizens are allowed to reproduce. One partial solution to this problem would be for obstetricians to tell all patients during their initial consultations about their moral views on abortion, and let patients decide then to which physicians they would prefer to go.