Abortion Business Attorney: Women Don’t Need to Know Abortion Risks
by Steven Ertelt
June 28, 2004
New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — In a stunning admission last week, an attorney representing a national group of abortion businesses admitted that women don’t need to know of the risk of premature delivery in a pregnancy following a partial-birth abortion.
The frank admission came during closing arguments of the New York trial of a lawsuit filed seeking to overturn the ban on partial-birth abortions, one of three such suits nationwide.
During his closing arguments on behalf of the National Abortion Federation, attorney Stephen Hut and Judge Richard Casey discussed a study conducted by Dr. Steven Chasen who practices maternal fetal medicine at New York City’s Presbyterian Hospital and teaches at Weil-Cornell Medical College.
Chasen, NAF’s expert witness in the trial, had conducted a study that showed an increase in the number of early term (premature) deliveries subsequent to a partial-birth abortion being performed.
Judge Casey brought up the study and asked Hut whether someone performing a partial-birth abortion has an obligation to tell women of the risk.
"There is certainly no obligation to report the results," to women considering abortion, Hut said.
"How can you give informed consent if you don’t tell them," Judge Casey responded, "aren’t we putting thousands of women and their babies at risk if we don’t have an obligation to tell women who are considering abortion?"
"Absolutely not," Hut replied. He added that he thought the study was meaningless.
"And you don’t think there is an obligation to tell women, when obtaining so-called informed consent," Judge Casey asked, baffled. "No," Hut replied.
Hut then said it would be wrong for someone performing an abortion to tell women of the study because the issue is too complex. Hut claimed the study was statistically insignificant.
"What in God’s name, your Honor, is she supposed to do with that piece of information," Hut asked rhetorically.
"Have you explained it in terms that she can understand," Judge Casey inquired.
"No," Hut replied, again saying the study was meaningless.
Hut also admitted that, even if a study had been conducted that showed, with no doubt, that partial-birth abortions contained a substantial risk of premature delivery in subsequent pregnancies, the partial-birth abortion ban would still be unconstitutional in his mind.
One of the arguments presented in the case by NAF and its attorneys is the idea that partial-birth abortions are safer than other abortion procedures.
Judge Casey disputed this notion by pointing to the Chasen study showing that partial-birth abortions are at least as risky for women, if not more so, than other abortion procedures.
During the trial, doctors on both sides were at odds over the study. As a result — Judge Casey said the medical opinion resulted in a tie and that the woman considering the abortion should receive the benefit of the information about the abortion procedure’s risk.
MR. HUT: No. No. If there is a draw then the default, a tie goes to the doctor and the doctor’s patient and the doctor’s good faith judgment in the safety of the procedure he recommends.
THE COURT: Should not the protection of women, Mr. Hut, a draw shouldn’t go to them?
MR. HUT: No, because there is no —
THE COURT: What are they supposed to say, what the heck, let them try it?
MR. HUT: No, your Honor.
THE COURT: So there is a risk.
Later in the discussion, Hut said that the matter of informed consent "is largely a matter of the individual judgment of the doctor based on his or her well informed assessment of his or her patient."
Judge Casey became indignant at this point and told Hut it sounded to him that it was "as if the doctors were informed and the women consented."
MR. HUT: I don’t think so at all, your Honor. I think this is a very delicate issue as to which sophisticated, experienced doctors bring to bear years and years of judgment that we lawyers — we lawyers cannot begin to appreciate.
THE COURT: It’s not the doctor’s consent, it’s the woman’s consent.
MR. HUT: And it’s the doctors that understand the women that are patients and those patients —
THE COURT: Isn’t that terribly patronizing when it’s the woman who’s making the decision?
Judge Casey said he was concerned that, if he overturns the ban on partial-birth abortions, medical malpractice cases would result where abortion practitioners are sued by women faced with the physical damage it has done to them — damage they were not forewarned would happen.
Casey asked Hut, "The best I can do is let it go on and let malpractice cases resolve what perhaps this Court should be facing up to?"
Hut’s response was a surprising relevation: "Rather than let the Congress deprive thousands of women of a safe property, sure."
Casey, concluded, by telling Hut he should take a more pro-woman position.
"And I think a little more deference to those women, it would behoove you to give them that."