Sure, doctors lie, or at least fudge the truth; it’s often a very necessary part of their profession, for a doctor must be able to show confidence in front of gravely-ill patients or worried parents. But should a doctor be allowed to refrain from telling a pregnant woman about issues concerning the fetus simply because she might decide to have an abortion?
The Arizona Senate passed a bill Tuesday that will prohibit medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors who withhold information from a woman that could cause her to have an abortion.
The “wrongful birth, wrongful life” lawsuit legislation passed the Republican-controlled Senate 20-9 Tuesday, setting up a coming battle in the GOP-dominated Arizona House of Representatives. The legislation — which is currently law in nine states — is sponsored by a Republican senator with close ties to the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. The approval comes as Kansas lawmakers consider similar legislation…
…Under the provisions of [the] bill, a doctor could not face a medical malpractice suit if the doctor withholds information from a mother about health issues facing a child that could cause her to have an abortion. In addition, a lawsuit could not be filed on the child’s behalf regarding a disability.
The rationale behind the bill is as follows:
The bill’s sponsor is Republican Nancy Barto of Phoenix. She says allowing the medical malpractice lawsuits endorses the idea that if a child is born with a disability, someone is to blame. Barto said the bill will still allow “true malpractice suits” to proceed. If the bill becomes law, Arizona would join nine states barring both “wrongful life” and “wrongful birth” lawsuits.
If a doctor informs a pregnant woman beforehand that there might be problems with the fetus, yes, the woman will look for someone to blame, and most women, in my experience, blame themselves whether or not it’s their fault. But in any case the Arizona House is allowing the doctor to lie to a pregnant mother about her fetus just to prevent the possibility of a malpractice lawsuit!
This is inexcusable; and this is precisely what happens when ideology is allowed to trump all other considerations to the point where a doctor would be allowed to lie, or at least deliberately withhold information, concerning the most important time of a woman’s life, her pregnancy. In other words, who cares about what happens to the rest of her life because she might have to care for a medically fragile, developmentally disabled child (which I have done for the past thirteen years)! Who cares about the cost not only to her life, but the life of her family, forced to bear this burden, and all too often the burden becomes too great for a marriage to bear? Who cares about the hundreds of thousands of state taxpayer dollars per year that that will be required for medical care for the entirety of that child’s life? All that really matters is that the possibility of a malpractice lawsuit was prevented.
But the key question is, what exactly has led the Republican party to the point where they would even consider such ludicrous legislation? Since the 1990′s, the Republicans have been playing a game with each other called “I’m more conservative than you!” As a result, their politicians have been forced to take positions that are polar opposites not only to ones previously held, but to constantly search for the next “Great Conservative Idea” that puts them further to the right than the other Republicans. This game is also what has led to legislation mandating state-mandated transvaginal ultrasounds for women wanting an abortion (Virginia, Pennsylvania, Alabama). This article provides a better overall picture of how widespread the anti-abortion legislative efforts are; they also include outlawing teaching of contraception in sex-education classes (Utah). Other pending new legislation around the country includes: