Facts are boring. Reality is overrated. And the truth is inconvenient.
This is the only way I can begin to rationalize why the left and many in the media have so vehemently attacked SB1359, a tort reform bill that prohibits wrongful life and wrongful birth lawsuits.
For instance, in a letter to the editor in last week’s Arizona Capitol Times, Karen Sabransky claimed that SB1359 “encourages doctors to lie by withholding critical, life-saving information from their female patients or failing to perform necessary tests in the first place.”
I wish Ms. Sabransky had read the language of the bill, because any conduct that is intentional or considered grossly negligent is not protected by SB1359. Therefore, a doctor or medical professional who intentionally withholds information or purposely does not perform a necessary test is still subject to civil liability.
The nonsensical attacks by Ms. Sabransky didn’t end there.
She then attempted to tie in a story to make her point. The only problem was that once again, reality wasn’t on her side.
She wrote about Rick and Karen Santorum’s experience having a child diagnosed with a birth defect in utero, and said if Karen Santorum “had been subjected to Arizona’s ‘wrongful birth, wrongful life’
legislation back in 1997, she could have very possibly died.” She goes on to say that legislation like SB1359 would have made it likely that Mrs. Santorum “could have been given false information or no information at all about her medical condition.”
But in 1988, Pennsylvania adopted “wrongful birth, wrongful life”
legislation that is substantively identical to the language proposed in SB1359.
Therefore, in 1997 Karen Santorum was subjected to this legislation, and yet, doctors still informed her that her unborn child had a fatal defect and Ms. Santorum could die if she attempted to carry the child to term.
But since we’re sharing stories, I’ll tell you about a case that shows why we need SB1359.
In Oregon, a couple sued the doctors who performed their prenatal testing because they did not detect that their daughter would have Down Syndrome. The parents argued that if they had known their daughter would have this condition, they would have had an abortion, and therefore the doctors must pay because their negligence allowed her to be born. Last week, a jury awarded the couple nearly $3 million.
Take a moment to truly consider what this ruling implies. It means the jury is saying that the mere life of this child causes harm to her parents, and therefore, someone must pay.
Arizona should not be a state that endorses the viewpoint that the life of a disabled person is worth less than the life of a person without a disability. Rather, we should ban frivolous and offensive wrongful life and wrongful birth lawsuits.
And while the truth about SB1359 may be inconvenient for some, it shouldn’t be overlooked to make the headlines or distort the bill’s actual provisions.
— Josh Kredit is legislative counsel of the Center for Arizona Policy