In a mind-bogglingly dangerous move, conservatives in the Texas Senate have passed a bill that some say would make it legal for doctors to lie to pregnant women about discoveries made during prenatal testing.
Texas Senate Bill 25 makes it illegal to sue a doctor for what’s known as a “wrongful birth”. Though rare, doctors have been sued in the past for not informing women about fetal defects that are found during ultrasound and other prenatal testing, the argument being that the women would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy if they had been properly informed. The bill was passed by the senate yesterday with a 21-9 vote would relieve medical professionals of legal liability in such cases.
Critics of the bill say that it opens up the opportunity for doctors who oppose abortion to lie to their patients. At the very least, a doctor might simply withhold the information from their patient. Heather Busby, executive director of the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, tells The Huffington Post, “Pregnant Texans deserve to feel like they can trust their doctor to provide them with all the information and when the doctor does not do that, those families deserve to have a legal avenue to seek compensation to care for special needs children.”
Texas Senator Brandon Creighton, the author of the bill, has strenuously denied that it would allow doctors to lie. “The bill does not permit a physician to lie,” he told The Blaze. He added that it also “does not decrease a physician’s standards of care or responsibilities, period”.
But Creighton doesn’t go into specifics about how the bill still prohibits a doctor from lying about the health of a fetus. Here’s the exact language used in the bill:
Sec. 71A.001. WRONGFUL BIRTH.
(a) 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.
(b) This section may not be construed to eliminate any duty of a physician or other health care practitioner under any other applicable law.
Arguably, it’s a doctor’s duty to inform their patient of any fetal defects that they find, so it’s unclear how those two clauses would fit together. Similar bills already exist in nine other US states, so it appears that the legal precedent exists.
Now that the legislation has passed the state senate, it will have to make it through the Texas House.