If state lawmakers get their way, patients could soon be able to sue their abortion doctors over emotional distress. But physicians say the plan will worsen Florida’s doctor shortage. For many Florida doctors, medical malpractice complaints are part of the territory. After years of discouraging frivolous lawsuits, legislators are now trying to expose abortion doctors to more litigation.
But some physicians are pushing back against the plan, which they say is designed to intimidate them.
Sarasota obstetrician Susy Prabhakaran says the plan would discourage OBGYNs from practicing in Florida.
“Increasing liability for us will add to the reputation that’s sometimes Florida can be difficult for OBGYNs, despite all the malpractice reforms that have happened," Prabhakaran said.
And that hostile working environment, she says, would decrease access to a range of women’s health services, not just abortions.
“Pregnant women and babies deserve the best care that we can provide them. HB 19 puts the health of women and babies in Florida in jeopardy because it limits their access to the right care providers,” she said.
Patients can already sue doctors for botched procedures and negligence under the state's medical malpractice law. But the proposed bill targets abortion providers specifically, and would allow women to sue on the basis of physical injury or death, or for emotional distress stemming from a doctor's failure to obtain informed consent.
The plan got a Senate sponsor Wednesday, shortly after the House version narrowly passed its second committee.