Case law: Informed consent for abortion does not include value judgment

March 1, 2004



A New Jersey Superior Court judge has ruled that an obstetrician/gynecologist was not required to provide more than impartial medical information regarding a pregnant woman's abortion to gain informed consent for the procedure, reported American Medical News (1/5/04). The judge found that the ob/gyn was not negligent in failing to tell the patient that the fetus or embryo was a living being before performing an abortion.

The case was brought against the ob/gyn by a patient who had her pregnancy terminated in the first trimester. She sued years later, claiming that the ob/gyn did not obtain her informed consent to perform the abortion because he failed to tell her that the fetus was a living being. The doctor claimed that he was not required to make a value judgment regarding the question of when life begins, but only to provide the medical facts.

The judge agreed with the defense. "When plaintiff insists that the doctor should have told her that she would be terminating the life of a living human being, she is asking for more than impartial medical information," the judge wrote in her decision.