New Jersey Abortion Practitioner Case Won’t Get Supreme Court Hearing

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 2, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey Abortion Practitioner Case Won’t Get Supreme Court Hearing Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 2,

Trenton, NJ ( — The U.S. Supreme Court has decided against hearing a New Jersey case involving an abortion practitioner who misled a woman by telling her the abortion she was going to have wouldn’t destroy a human life. State courts sided with abortion practitioner Sheldon Turkish in the case of the 1996 abortion.

Rosa Acuna say Turkish misled her but, two weeks ago, the state’s high court ruled that Turkish didn’t have to tell Acuna that the abortion would kill her baby.

The 5-0 decision reversed an appeals court ruling by saying that the case didn’t have to go before a jury.

Last Monday, Acuna’s attorney, Harold Cassidy, filed a motion for reconsideration and re-argument with the New Jersey Supreme Court and filed legal papers with the U.S. Supreme Court as well.

On Monday, the nation’s high court declined to hear the wrongful death claim that is a part of Acuna’s case. Justices offered no reason why they would not hear the case.

Neither Cassidy nor John Zen Jackson, the lawyer who represents Turkish, would comment on the Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case.

Cassidy is still pursuing the case at the New Jersey Supreme Court level and told last week that its initial decision was "a departure from the existing law that places a premium on the need to give information to a woman that she wants to know in order to preserve her autonomy in matters so deeply personal to her."

Acuna said she should have been told more information about her unborn child and about the emotional and psychological risks of having an abortion beforehand.

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 it’s "nothing but some blood."

In April 2006, a three-judge panel of a state appeals court said a jury should determine if she was properly advised, but also threw out a wrongful death claim Acuna filed.

"We know of no common law duty requiring a physician to instruct the woman that the embryo is an ‘existing human being,’ and suggesting that an abortion is tantamount to murder," Justice Barry Albin wrote for the court.

Albin claimed the statement that an abortion kills a human being "has no broad support in either the medical community or society."

The New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision ultimately reinstates the trial court’s ruling that the case should be thrown out.

Still, the high court acknowledged that an abortion practitioner should inform women of the medical risks associated with having an abortion.

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 Turkish had left parts of the unborn child inside her.