Bioethics Blogs

Texas ‘Wrongful Birth’ Legislation

On March 21st, the Texas Senate passed SB 25, which eliminates “wrongful birth” as a cause of action for malpractice suits.  The text of the bill states, “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. […]  This section may not be construed to eliminate any duty of a physician or other health care practitioner under any other applicable law.”

The bill’s supporters contend that the legislation “reverses a decades-old injustice and bad public policy that devalues babies, both unborn and born, who have a disability,” and removes pressure that physicians may feel to recommend abortions in order to preempt lawsuits.

However, opponents of the bill argue that it gives physicians the clearance to lie to patients about fetal health to prevent them from having an abortion. One activist argues that the legislation provides physicians 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.”  The text of the bill, however, clearly precludes such a scenario.

In overturning wrongful birth precedent, this bill recognizes and defends the dignity of individuals with disabilities from the morally backwards concept of “wrongful birth.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.