New Jersey Court Rules Jury Must Decide Abortion Information Lawsuit

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 10, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey Court Rules Jury Must Decide Abortion Information Lawsuit Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 10, 2006

Trenton, NJ ( — A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that a jury should decided whether a woman who had an abortion was properly given enough information beforehand. The woman says she should have been told more information about her unborn child and about the emotional and psychological risks of having an abortion.

Rosa Acuna says she was incorrectly told by Sheldon Turkish that she was not aborting a human life when she had an abortion in 1996, according to court papers.

A kidney disorder made Acuna’s pregnancy difficult and Turkish advised her to have an abortion. She was about six to seven weeks pregnant at the time of the abortion.

According to the lawsuit, Acuna asked if "the baby was already there" and Turkish replied that its "nothing but some blood."

The three judge panel of the appeals court said a jury should determine if she was properly advised, but also threw out a wrongful death claim Acuna filed.

"The issue presented here is quite narrow," the panel ruled. "What medical information is material and must be disclosed by an obstetrician when advising a patient to terminate a pregnancy?"

Judge Ariel Rodriques wrote that a jury should determine what information is appropriate.

"Mrs. Acuna is grateful that the Appellate Court has again ruled in her favor so that she will be permitted to try her case in a court of law," her attorney, Harold Cassidy, said.

Despite allowing the case to move forward, Judge Rodriques appeared to side with Turkish.
"Obviously, the term ‘baby’ meant something different to Acuna and Turkish," he wrote for the panel. "For her, it meant an embryo or fetus; for the doctor, a human being following birth. Arguably, from Turkish’s perspective, he answered correctly, and discharged his duty to his patient by indicating that there was no ‘baby’ there."

John Zen Jackson, Turkish’s attorney, told the Star Ledger newspaper he was satisfied with the ruling. However, he said he’s not sure if he will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

"The court specifically rejected the assertion that a doctor had to disclose that an unborn child is in existence," he said.

In a deposition, Turkish admitted he routinely tells pregnant mothers that unborn children early on in pregnancy are "nothing but some tissue."

Acuna sued Turkish, saying the abortion caused psychological trauma including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosexual dysfunction. She was hospitalized for an incomplete abortion weeks later and a nurse told her that Tuirkish had left parts of the unborn child inside her.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Amy Chambers ruled in November that Turkish was not required to tell Acuna, 36, that the unborn child was a human being. Acuna appealed her decision.