Friday, February 23, 2007

NJ Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Abortion Med Mal Case That Raises Forced Speech Issue

Stethoscope The Star Ledger reports:

The [New Jersey] Supreme Court heard arguments today on whether doctors should be required tell a pregnant woman seeking an abortion that the procedure would kill a human being and whether the woman should be required to sign a consent form indicating she knows it.

The question arises from a long-running civil lawsuit brought by a South Bound Brook woman who claims her doctor did not provide enough information when he advised her to end her pregnancy. An appeals panel ruled last spring that the case should go to a jury, but that decision was appealed and now the highest court has agreed to step in.

The case, however, has much wider implications, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief and participated in today's oral arguments.

"This case isn't about what happened to her in 1996," said ACLU attorney Talcott Camp. "This case is about what happens to every woman seeking an abortion going forward."

Harold Cassidy, a well-known anti-abortion lawyer representing the woman, Rosa Acuna, in the case said the doctor should be required to inform patients seeking abortions that the embryo is a "human being" and the procedure could end the life of an "existing family member." He would also require patients to sign consent forms explaining they understand an abortion terminates a "human being."

From the ACLU's press release:

In 1998, Rosa Acuna brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor in New Jersey, claiming that he had failed to properly inform her at the time of her abortion that the embryo was a complete, separate, unique and irreplaceable human being with whom she had an existing relationship, and his failure to do so caused her emotional distress. 

According to court papers, Acuna, who had two children prior to her abortion, stated that at the time of her abortion she understood that she was pregnant and signed a form consenting to the procedure. . . .

The ACLU argued that an unfavorable decision in this case could extend far beyond abortion, including interfering with physicians prescribing certain birth control methods, pharmacists dispensing birth control pills and emergency contraception, and emergency room personnel treating sexual assault survivors.

Abortion, In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News | Permalink

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