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Palazzo Bill Would Prevent Discrimination and Protect Life

Leading pro-life groups praise ‘Every Child is a Blessing Act’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steven Palazzo, (MS-4), this week introduced the Every Child is a Blessing Act, that would put a stop to controversial “wrongful birth” lawsuits and prevent discrimination of children with disabilities. In these cases, individuals sue on the grounds that they would have aborted their child based on the child’s disability.

“No child should ever have to hear they should have never been born,” Palazzo stated. “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.”

 Disability advocacy groups have decried wrongful birth suits for their opposition to “the principles of the disability rights movement and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” and cited the suits as putting pressure on parents to “publicly reject their child because of a disability.”

In addition to discriminating against disabled children, wrongful birth cases can place costly burdens on the judicial system. In recent years, the number of wrongful birth lawsuits filed has increased due to the large sums awarded plaintiffs. In one recent case in Washington state, a couple was awarded $50 million in a claim that they would have aborted their child had they known the child would be born with a genetic defect. In 2008, a court in Massachusetts awarded a couple $8.22 million on the grounds that they would have aborted their child with Down syndrome. A 2007 case in Florida awarded $23 million to a couple whose child was born with a genetic disorder.

Leading pro-life groups have endorsed the Every Child is a Blessing Act, including the National Right to Life Committee and Americans United for Life Action.

Charmain Yoest, President & CEO of Americans United for Life Action, noted 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.”

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee praised the bill, noting that the idea that “abortion is preferable to life with a disability is incompatible with, and corrosive to, fundamental disability-rights principles. … Certainly such lawsuits cannot be reconciled with recognition that each unborn member of the human family has an intrinsic right to life.”

While the bill would prevent discrimination of disabled children in judicial proceedings and prohibit recovery of damages in wrongful birth and life lawsuits, it would not interfere in traditional medical malpractice cases. In addition, it would not prevent cases from being brought on other grounds against physicians who willfully misrepresent or withhold information from patients.  

In addition to Palazzo, the thirty-six House cosponsors include: