Abortion Malpractice

January 17, 2014

Ob/Gyn Specialists of the Palm Beaches v. Mejia, — So.3d —, 2014 WL 51896 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 2014)

Another intersection between medical malpractice and Roe v. Wade:

Parents of a child with significant birth defects were informed about the child’s potential abnormalities at early stages of the mother’s pregnancy. At that point in time, they decided to keep the pregnancy. During the third trimester, the child’s abnormalities became certain but the physicians offered the mother no abortion option, which arguably constituted malpractice.

The physicians nevertheless won the malpractice suit, after a successful appeal, because the parents failed to establish causation. Florida law prohibits third-trimester abortions that are not necessary “to save the life or preserve the health of the pregnant woman.” Hence, the mother could not legally have an abortion in Florida. The appellate court held in that connection that the physicians were entitled to present evidence that third trimester abortions were generally illegal; that the statutory term “third trimester” refers to the gestational age of the fetus; and that the physicians had no duty to tell mother whether she could legally undergo a third trimester abortion in another state.

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