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Historic Abortion Case; Acuna V. Turkish

SHREWSBURY, N.J., Sept. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement issued by Harold Cassidy, on behalf of Rosa Acuna:



Today's opinion is a stunning and surprising, although temporary, defeat for Mrs. Acuna and the women of New Jersey. The opinion represents a significant departure, in our judgment, from existing principles of the New Jersey law of informed consent.

I have spoken with Mrs. Acuna today on a number of occasions. The disappointing decision has deepened her resolve and she has instructed me to file a petition in the United States Supreme Court. It is our judgment that the New Jersey law, as now construed by the New Jersey Supreme Court presents a clear equal protection violation of Mrs. Acuna's rights, and a misunderstanding and misapplication of the opinions of the United States Supreme Court's decisions as cited in today's opinion

The Plaintiff contended throughout the history of this case that the well recognized duty of the physician to disclose the facts about the nature of the procedure which a reasonable patient would want to know required presentation of the evidence of those facts to a jury. Plaintiff contended, with the support of compelling factual evidence, that a reasonable patient would want to know what was being evacuated during the abortion procedure. Two of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases have expressly acknowledged that such information is material to a woman's decision.

It is also well settled that an obstetrician has a duty to a child in utero. Encompassed in that duty is the obligation that the physician disclose to the child in utero the impact a procedure will have on the child. That duty is discharged by disclosing to a pregnant mother the precise impact a procedure would have upon her unborn child. The mother makes the decision for both herself and her child. In Mrs. Acuna's case, the doctor admitted that he denied that Mrs. Acuna's unborn child was even in existence. Today's decision singles out women attempting to make a decision of whether to submit to an abortion, as the one exception to this duty to disclose. This exclusion from protection from the law is especially egregious in light of the fundamental rights involved in her decision making process.

Millions of women across this nation have made the same complaint as Mrs. Acuna: that they are given false and misleading factual information about what is evacuated in the abortion procedure. They suffer profoundly when they learn, as Mrs. Acuna did, the truth after it is too late. For them, they have lost something of great value, which was dismissed as mere tissue.

There is no question, and there can be no credible dispute, that the procedure performed upon Mrs. Acuna terminated the life of a member of the species Homo sapiens. Mrs. Acuna, and other pregnant mothers in her circumstance, are entitled to know that fact before they make a decision for themselves of whether or not to submit to the procedure.

This simple biological fact should not be confused with the separate question of whether or not Mrs. Acuna would personally place any special value on the life of that member of the species under all her circumstances. Advising Mrs. Acuna that he was evacuating nothing but "mere tissue" (or some blood) strips Mrs. Acuna of her own authority and ability to make an informed decision for herself. This is so because she was deprived of the opportunity to make a reasoned and informed decision because she was not given the biological facts essential for her to make that decision in a truly informed way.

The language employed in Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court - concerning "when life begins" - continues to confound and confuse even the most sophisticated inferior courts. Perhaps, it is now time for that Court to correct that language. In 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that the Roe decision may not have been completely correct, and stated that the Court did not see how the errors of Roe v. Wade would result in Court determinations that adversely affected the liberty rights of women.

Acuna v. Turkish is now Exhibit A to be presented to that Court which shows what devastating damage is done to the rights of the women of our state because of the loose reasoning and the use of loose language employed in that case. Many women of our state are losing their children and their constitutionally protected interest in their relationship with their children in abortion procedures they would not have had if they were told truthful biological facts. Such injustices do not advance the rights of women. They destroy them.

There is no public policy that justifies the destruction of the mother's fundamental rights only because abortion providers prefer not to make disclosures which are necessary for an informed decision. We must be more concerned about the fundamental rights of women than the delicate sensibilities of the physicians charged with the duty to preserve their interests.

The argument advanced by the Defendants in this case portrays women as weak and unintelligent. They portray the women as being too weak to be given truthful, factual information before the decision is made because they presume to think the woman could not make a reasoned decision for herself, if given information which is disturbing to the physician. Their arguments portray the women as being incapable of ultimately learning the truth after the abortion procedure is performed. As the United States Supreme Court has acknowledged on two separate occasions, when subsequent events lead to the woman realizing the truth, it is predictable that she will suffer devastating psychological consequences as the result of being mislead about such an important decision.

SOURCE Harold J. Cassidy & Associates
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