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Arizona Senate to consider preventing 'wrongful birth' lawsuits

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Senate is considering a bill that would ban so-called "Wrongful Birth" and "Wrongful Life" Medical Malpractice lawsuits.

The lawsuits are normally filed by parents who think a doctor withheld information about their baby that could have led them to decide to have an abortion. That could include information that the child may be handicapped.

"When I first heard of this issue, I couldn't believe that these lawsuits are actually happening," says State Senator Nancy Barto, the bill's sponsor. "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."

Barto says many times the lawsuits are in the wrong, because prenatal testing did not show anything wrong, and that doctor had no information that there were any signs of a problem.

"The lawsuits that are being brought imply that the physicial is somehow at fault if the child is born with a disability," Barto says.

Many times the doctors, even though they did nothing wrong, are settling out of court because they can't afford to fight the cases.

She says that under her bill, a doctor could still be sued if there's evidence that he or she did something wrong.

"If a doctor intentionally or knowlingly withholds information," says Barto, "then a lawsuit could be appropriate."

The bill passed a Senate committee on Wednesday and will next be considered by the full Senate. Nine other states already have a similar law.

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