Pregnancy and Trauma Care Access Protection Act of 2004, Feb 15, 2006

S. 2061, the "Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies Access to Care Act," was introduced on February 10, 2004, by Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. This legislation caps non-economic and economic damages that juries can award plaintiffs in cases involving obstetricians and gynecologists.

On February 24, 2004, the Senate rejected the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 2061. The motion required 60 votes to pass, but garnered only 48.

Following this vote, Senator Gregg introduced S. 2207, the "Pregnancy and Trauma Care Access Protection Act of 2004," a version of S. 2061 that was expanded to include emergency room personnel. Again, the motion to proceed to debate on the bill was rejected.

Because of my concerns with the effects this bill would have on the rights of the injured and its rigid federal mandate imposed on state tort systems, I voted against the motion to proceed on both of these bills.

Frivolous litigation and the awarding of huge punitive damage awards have increased costs for many businesses and professions in America. However, I believe that it should ultimately be a judge's responsibility and, indeed, a judge's duty to dismiss frivolous lawsuits.

The key to reforming America's tort system is to elect good judges at the state level. Alabama must elect judges who can strike a fair balance between the rights of both parties.

I simply cannot support federalizing the state tort system, which has been in place since the nation's founding. Whenever the federal government steps in and strips the states of their role in the federal system by preempting state law, the federal government has diminished the civil liberties of every citizen in a real and substantial way.

In short, the provisions of S. 2061 are best left to debate in state legislatures, not in the United States Congress


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