Legislation To End Birth Injury Lawsuits

Legislation To End Birth Injury Lawsuits

A bill preventing parents from bringing malpractice suits against doctors, who fail to identify birth defects, has been passed in one Senate committee this week.  If the bill is passed in Congress, the new law would make Ohio the seventh state to ban wrongful-life and wrongful-birth lawsuits. 

Republican Senator Jim Jordan, who proposed the bill has commented, “The premise of these lawsuits is that somehow death is preferable to life with a disability, and that is just not true and is not something we should condone.”  The bill was created in response to pending Ohio Supreme Court cases in which mothers are alleging had they known of their child’s birth defect; they would have chosen to abort. 

Anne Valentine, an attorney representing the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers strongly disagrees with the proposal.  Valentine asserts that the bill is merely a way to safeguard doctors from punishment in cases medical negligence.

Ohio’s already strict birth injury laws, substantially limit damages parents can collect in the event that a child is born with a severely debilitating injury.  Ohio law only affords parents compensation in medical malpractice cases for economic damages and the difference in cost between raising a disabled child versus a healthy child. 

The Court has previously ruled against wrongful birth and wrongful life lawsuits in Ohio, alleging that the state does not recognize these claims brought on behalf of the children. 

Attorney Valentine is strongly opposed to this standpoint, commenting that the bill provides no support whatsoever for families handling the emotionally and financially trying experience of raising a severely disabled child.  Doctor’s should be held responsible for failing to detect birth defects of the fetus, according to the opposition. 

Valentine adds that because abortion is a legal right in the United States, protecting doctors who withhold information regarding fetus defects is denying parents their legal right to terminate the pregnancy.  Technically, the bill does contain an amendment allowing lawsuits in the event that information is willfully withheld, however, these cases may be difficult to demonstrate. 

Currently in Ohio, there are two cases pending in the Ohio Supreme Court, one involving an eight-year-old boy who can neither speak nor crawl, and the other a girl who died 12 days after she was born. 

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