ONTD Political

ARIZONA: Tries to Legislate Medical Practices, but Really Just Wants Women to Die

10:16 am - 03/08/2012
The Arizona Senate has approved a bill that would shield doctors and others from so-called “wrongful birth” lawsuits.

Those are lawsuits that can arise if physicians don’t inform pregnant women of prenatal problems that could lead to the decision to have an abortion.

The Senate’s 20-9 vote Tuesday sends the bill to the state House.

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.

Opponents of the bill say it’s unnecessary and would infringe on reproductive rights.



I just. WHAT? You're not going to inform women of potential issues with their babies? You do realize that's not how medicine works, right, senator?

I removed an inciting comment that this may cause the mother's death due to poster's explanation here. If we're going specifically by legal cases of 'wrongful birth,' this wouldn't happen as the only 'fetal defect' that I can think of off the top of my head that would threaten the life of the mother is carrying a dead fetus to term, which while some women might still be judged for, I assume the majority of pro-lifers would not care. Sorry about not doing more research before I posted this!
chaya 8th-Mar-2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
So even the women that would continue their pregnancy with the knowledge that their child will have a serious issue get no warning or time for preparation whatsoever. These laws continually risk the welfare of the potential children and their families even when those families are doing/would do the ""right"" thing. Great.

I'm sure most doctors, even if anti-choice, wouldn't withhold information from a pregnant woman about what's going on with her, but those that would are going to friggin love this bill.
txvoodoo 9th-Mar-2012 01:47 am (UTC)
Or have the option of doing procedures that might alleviate some of the fetus's conditions.
angi_is_altered 8th-Mar-2012 06:14 pm (UTC)
It is stuff like this that makes me really frightened for my daughter if we return to the US. When did women become the enemy?
icanseenow 8th-Mar-2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
I thought they always were...?
not_emily 8th-Mar-2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
This can't possibly be legal, can it? How do nine states have this?

riath 8th-Mar-2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
If the bill becomes law, Arizona would join nine states barring both “wrongful life” and “wrongful birth” lawsuits.

One state with this sort of dumb ass law on the books is one too many, but politicians want to make it ten. I can't even....

Fuck this, I'm going to go watch ponies!!!
beokitty 8th-Mar-2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
I don't think this law is to give doctors the right to knowingly withhold information from their patients, I think it's addressing the point that if a doctor doesn't detect a problem he's not considered at fault & wouldnt have to pay for a lifetime of care for the disabled. (e.g.: md didnt force you to have a prenatal genetic test and your kid has down syndrome - assuming there were no risk factors indicating the likelihood of a genetic disorder - you can't sue the doctor just because your kid was born with down syndrome and claim that he should have known). It doesn't negate all malpractice lawsuits. If a doctor makes an egregious mistake you can still sue.

Following from: http://www.phoenixazpersonalinjuryattorney.com/2012/03/arizona-bill-may-limit-medical-malpractice-wrongful-birth-claims.shtml:

Medical advances have made it possible for prospective parents to make informed decisions about ending or continuing a pregnancy when tests show that a fetus is not developing normally. Patients don't always receive competent prenatal care or complete information from their doctors, however -- and in these cases, have long had the right to pursue medical malpractice lawsuits for wrongful birth or wrongful life under Arizona law.

Unfortunately, a new bill being considered by the Arizona Senate may make it much more difficult for plaintiffs to prevail in these types of cases.

State Senator Nancy Barto, the bill's sponsor, says it's unbelievable that "some couples, after they give birth to their child that has a disability, would claim that the child should not have been born, and would sue to get damages."

She and other proponents of the bill claim that in many cases, lawsuits are unfair because testing and normal prenatal care revealed no signs of any problem. Barto also claims that her bill would still allow parents to pursue a wrongful birth/wrongful life medical malpractice claim if there is evidence that the doctor intentionally or knowingly withheld information.

As reasonable as that may sound, the words "intentionally" and "knowingly" place a much higher burden of proof on plaintiffs than words such as "negligent" or "reckless."

What this will likely mean for future lawsuits is that absent evidence a doctor committed medical malpractice or deliberately withheld information, parents will no longer be able to recover compensation for the costs of raising and caring for these children. It will also likely absolve doctors and other licensed healthcare providers of responsibility for failing to perform tests or failing to detect birth defects evidenced in test results.

Edited at 2012-03-08 07:03 pm (UTC)
temperance_k 8th-Mar-2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
Yes... and no, IMO.

There are definite benefits to this for doctors. No one wants to go through a malpractice suit. At the same time, if you're a good physician who documents carefully, keeps your patient informed, and gets informed consent, is this really an issue other than the hassle of going through the initial court process?

What about the other side? I like to think all doctors do the best for their patient regardless of personal belief, but I know that's not always true. What does a patient do if their doctor sees that something might be wrong with the child, DOES NOT DOCUMENT IT, and does not inform their patient? The patient does not get official documents saying that X test was performed, and the doctor just didn't tell her.

This could also be my bias against the Arizona Congress, but I don't think they passed this bill with doctors' tort reform in mind.
maladaptive 8th-Mar-2012 10:10 pm (UTC)
According to my grandparents (both doctors): your insurance rates can go up if you get sued, you're on record as being sued, hospitals get antsy, it takes time away from your work, not to mention the stress of being sued even if your insurance/hospital does all the work for you. I've heard this about general malpractice issues, and ob/gyns in my state have some of the worst medmal rates in the country, hence why you can't get one, so I wouldn't be surprised that it's more than just the hassle of the court process.

I don't think it was passed with tort reform in mind, either, and I am generally suspicious of tort reform in general (much better to have more accessible defense than to bar plaintiffs, IMO), but I've found that even good doctors are skittish about being sued. And much as I like to say "frivolous lawsuits are not a problem" doctors get sued a lot when it's not their fault-- often because it's a battle between insurance companies.
temperance_k 8th-Mar-2012 10:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, I do get that! I think in this case, it's also very dependent on the state. Some states are horrible to doctors, malpractice-wise, and some states are very nice. I'm trying to find a site that breaks it down by state, but living in AZ and having a father who is a physician, I don't see a lot of people worrying about this /anecdata. At least, not in the metropolitan Phoenix area. Maybe in areas where there are upper/middle-class people who can afford to sue?

Although most physicians I know here are not in fields where they're as likely to get sued as OB/GYNs.
sobota 8th-Mar-2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
i cannot in good faith ever, EVER return to america if i find myself with child. really, i can't see myself returning to america at all in case i have any medical problems, seeing as i wouldn't have insurance in the first place.

wtf is going on here?
the_gabih 8th-Mar-2012 08:35 pm (UTC)
So they really do just hate us. Good to know.
ellonwye 8th-Mar-2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
What the fuck is this? WHAT THE FUCK IS IT?
bestdaywelived 8th-Mar-2012 11:31 pm (UTC)
So basically, we're forcing women to birth children who might not even survive long outside the womb, or will have a short life filled with extreme pain (see: Tay-Sachs). I'm glad we care about women and children.

Also, fuck you, Arizona.
lurkerwisp 8th-Mar-2012 11:47 pm (UTC)
If there's an issue that would kill the mother that a doctor does not say anything about, then that's a wrongful death suit instead of a wrongful birth suit. This change in the law does not effect that.

Not saying it's a good law, but you're misrepresenting the issue pretty badly there.
temperance_k 9th-Mar-2012 12:06 am (UTC)
I probably did jump the gun since I saw this article in my inbox upon waking up. I read a different article, which I interpreted to mean that if this bill passes, doctors may feel a lot more comfortable not pushing prenatal care, which could lead to life-threatening conditions for the mother.

Which admittedly is not a 'wrongful birth' case even if it might be associated with this bill. I'll go change my wording with a link to this thread and an apology.
lurkerwisp 9th-Mar-2012 12:18 am (UTC)
Thanks for the edit! :)
bestdaywelived 9th-Mar-2012 01:03 am (UTC)
This isn't going to help anyone. It's just going to lead to more child abuse and murder of children with disabilities, since more of these children are going to be born to parents who a.) have no time to prepare for their child's birth and b.) are not equipped to handle a high-needs child. The abuse and murder rates for children with disabilities are significantly higher than for typical children.
hinoema 9th-Mar-2012 08:09 am (UTC)
Fortunately, most doctors are better than that. Still, good on them- more proof that they need voted right the fuck out of the state.
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