Thursday, September 13, 2007

Doctors Not Obliged To Call Embryos "Unique Living Beings"

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A US state supreme court ruled Wednesday against a woman who had brought a malpractice suit against her doctor for not telling her she was carrying "a complete, unique, irreplaceable human being" before performing an abortion.

Plaintiff Rosa Acuna consulted her gynecologist, Sheldon Turkish, in 1996 in New Jersey, complaining of abdominal pain.

On examining Acuna, who has two daughters, Turkish told her she was around seven weeks pregnant.

A few days later, Acuna returned to Turkish's medical practice and asked him to terminate the pregnancy.

She subsequently filed a complaint against him, accusing the doctor of not adequately informing her that her unborn child was "a complete, separate, unique and irreplaceable human being," and that she would be murdering "an existing human being" and member of her family if she aborted the fetus.

The case went through the courts in the northeastern state until it reached the New Jersey supreme court, which ruled in favor of Turkish.

"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," the court said in its decision.

Doctors are only required "to provide their pregnant patients seeking an abortion with material medical information, including gestational stage and medical risks involved in the procedure," the court ruled.

"We do not find that the common law commands a physician to inform a pregnant patient that an embryo is an existing, living human being and that an abortion results in the killing of a family member," the decision said.

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