Bill against wrongful birth suits could protect disabled children

Washington D.C., Jun 4, 2014 / 04:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Every Child is a Blessing Act, a bill recently introduced in the House, aims to protect children with disabilities against lawsuits claiming they should have been aborted due to their condition.

“No child should ever have to hear they should have never been born,” said Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss), who sponsored the bill and introduced it to the House of Representatives, in a May 22 statement.

“I believe every child is a blessing, and should be treated as such. Wrongful birth cases are a waste of judicial resources and amount to nothing more than court-sanctioned child abuse. This bill will do away with these disturbing and discriminating lawsuits.”

The bill, which has 36 cosponsors from both the Democratic and Republican parties, aims to protect health care providers and other organizations from “wrongful birth” lawsuits in which parents sue for damages on the grounds that they would have aborted their child if they had known that he or she would be disabled.

The bill would also aim to prevent discrimination against disabled children in legal cases more broadly.

It would not affect the ability to file other medical malpractice suits in cases involving disabled children or doctors who withhold information from patients – including expectant mothers.

These lawsuits “have as their basis the assumption that life with a disability is not worth living,” explained a coalition of disabilities rights organizations in a 2012 letter to the American Civil Liberties Union criticizing the filing of “wrongful birth” suits.

“Such statements can be damaging to the child, the family, the disability community at large, and to society as it struggles to be respectful and inclusive of all its members.”

Suits in which parents were awarded tens of millions of dollars have been levied against health care practitioners across the United States, with the parents arguing they would have aborted their children had they known they would be born with a disability or genetic defect.

One couple in Washington was awarded $50 million after making this claim.

This idea that “abortion is preferable to life with a disability is incompatible with, and corrosive to, fundamental disability-rights principle,” said Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee, praising the bill.  

“Certainly such lawsuits cannot be reconciled with recognition that each unborn member of the human family has an intrinsic right to life.”

The president of Americans United for Life Action, Dr. Charmaine Yoest, pointed out that “more than 90 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.”

“This chilling slide toward eugenics – specifically the elimination of persons with certain hereditary characteristics – is deeply troubling.”

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