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Medical Malpractice

No Abortion Warning By NJ Doc Required

Posted Sep 12, 2007 5:33 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A physician has no duty to warn a woman before an abortion that she is about to terminate a human life, the New Jersey Supreme Court held today.

Ruling in the case of a married woman who decided with her husband to abort their baby and then regretted the decision, the court said it could not require a doctor to provide information about when life begins since there is no consensus in the medical community on this issue, reports the New York Times. Rosa Acuna filed a medical malpractice claim in 1996, contending that her doctor, Sheldon Turkish, didn't get her informed consent to the abortion because he didn't give her full information beforehand about the procedure.

“On the profound issue of when life begins, this court cannot drive public policy in one particular direction by the engine of the common law when the opposing sides, which represent so many of our citizens, are arrayed along a deep societal and philosophical divide,” writes Justice Barry T. Albin in the court's opinion (PDF). Hence, since there is no consensus within the medical community, or even in the general public, about when life begins, there no legal basis to require doctors to tell patients “that an abortion results in the killing of a family member.”

Similar cases are pending in Illinois and South Dakota.

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