Supreme Court Asked to Decide Whether Abortion Kills Human Being

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 26, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Supreme Court Asked to Decide Whether Abortion Kills Human Being

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 26
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — The Supreme Court on Monday will decide whether or not it will hold a hearing on an appeal in a case involving an abortion practitioner who misled a woman. Abortion practitioner Sheldon Turkish told potential abortion patient Rose Acuna that her unborn baby was "nothing but some blood."

The case is heralded by some pro-life attorneys as the first chance for the Supreme Court in 35 years to decide whether abortions kills a human being.

After the New Jersey Supreme Court said in November that it won’t reconsider the decision it handed down in September against Acuna, her attorney filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.

The case involves a 1996 abortion and Acuna says Turkish misled her but the New Jersey court ruled Turkish didn’t have to tell Acuna that the abortion would kill her baby.

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."

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.

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

The Trinity Legal Center filed an amicus brief in the case in May and it informed on Friday that the high court will decide on Monday whether to take the case.

"The New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in the Acuna case condones a physician lying to a pregnant woman," the center said. "The U.S. Supreme Court’s action on this case could significantly impact state laws, particularly informed consent requirements."

"Specifically, the issue is whether a woman can properly exercise her constitutional right to decide whether to have an abortion if the abortionist provides false and misleading information. To obtain informed consent, a physician must provide accurate and truthful information," the firm added.

About 9,000 cases are appealed to the Supreme Court each year, but the Court only takes about 90, so the chances of the case getting a hearing is slim.

The New Jersey Supreme Court’s 5-0 decision last year reversed an appeals court ruling by saying that the case didn’t have to go before a jury.

Acuna’s attorney, Harold Cassidy, filed a motion for reconsideration and re-argument and filed legal papers with the U.S. Supreme Court in response.

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."

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.

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