Pregnancy Center Group: Supreme Court Should Hear Abortion Deception Case

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 19, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pregnancy Center Group: Supreme Court Should Hear Abortion Deception Case

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 19
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — A leading organization that represents the thousands of pregnancy resource centers across the country wants the Supreme Court to hear a New Jersey case involving an abortion practitioner who misled a woman. In November, the New Jersey Supreme Court sided with Sheldon Turkish.

The state high court said it won’t reconsider the decision it handed down in September against a woman who sued the abortion practitioner for misleading her about the development of her unborn child in a 1996 abortion.

Rosa Acuna says Turkish misled her but the New Jersey Supreme 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.

On Friday, Acuna’s attorney, Harold Cassidy, filed legal papers with the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

On Monday, Heartbeat International president Peggy Hartshorn told her group has filed a brief in support.

"As an association dedicated to helping women, we call on the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the New Jersey Court’s precedent and to require abortionists to provide medically accurate details about the gestational development of a human baby," she said.

"The facts are a baby’s heart begins beating at 21 days and brain waves can be measured at six weeks. Women deserve the truth," she told

With Acuna v. Turkish, the New Jersey High Court set the legal precedent that a doctor can legally deceive a woman considering abortion, Hartshorn worried.

The Supreme Court, in October, decided against hearing the case and Cassidy hopes it will reconsider its decision.

Cassidy previously called the decision "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.

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.

"When a woman comes into a Heartbeat center seeking abortion information, she wants to know what is happening with and in her body. We tell her about abortion procedures and show her fetal models or pictures of fetal development," Hartshorn explained.

"A doctor should have the responsibility of explaining human development to his patient. She has a right to be fully informed before she submits to an abortion procedure. The woman’s health risks increase without this information."

Related web sites:
Heartbeat International –