Ariz. Bill Would Prohibit 'Wrongful Birth' Lawsuits

February 10, 2012 — An Arizona Senate bill would ban so-called "wrongful birth" lawsuits, in which plaintiffs claim that doctors failed to inform them of prenatal complications that would have led them to choose an abortion, the AP/Mohave Daily News reports. The bill has cleared one Senate committee and must pass through a second before advancing to the full Senate. The legislation includes an exception for suits involving an "intentional or grossly negligent act or omission."

According to Gary Marchant, a law professor who specializes in genetics at Arizona State University, about 100 wrongful birth suits have been filed nationwide, including a few in Arizona. Many of those cases involved physicians who did not share or adequately communicate the findings of prenatal screenings. Marchant said nine states ban wrongful birth suits.

Bill sponsor Sen. Nancy Barto (R) said the suits endorse the notion that someone is at fault if a child is born with a disability. Cathi Herrod -- president of conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy, which suggested the bill -- said, "Public policy should reflect in Arizona that no child's life is a wrongful life."

State Sen. Linda Lopez (D) said the bill would infringe on women's reproductive rights. She said, "I think that the desire of the folks who are promoting this bill is to further limit the ability of women and families in this state to make decisions about their family and what their family is going to look like." A Planned Parenthood representative also registered opposition to the bill (AP/Mohave Daily News, 2/9).