The New Jersey Supreme Court recently dismissed a woman’s claim that she was denied proper informed consent when she had an abortion:
Plaintiff said that she asked defendant “if it was the baby in there” and that defendant replied, “don’t be stupid, it’s only blood.” Defendant could not recall how he responded but believes he likely would have told her that a “seven-week pregnancy is not a living human being,” but rather it “is just tissue at this time.”
Note that he doesn’t dispute that he gave her false information in response to her direct question, he just doesn’t remember whether his response was quite as false — and heartless — as she says it was.
Oh, but it’s not lying to a patient (in the state of New Jersey) to say that the seven-week embryo is “only blood” or “just tissue”, because scientific concepts such as “organism” and “species” don’t have meaning if you can find someone who will testify that they don’t:
Plaintiff is prepared to present expert testimony to establish, as a biological fact, that her embryo was “an existing human being” –- “a member of the species Homo sapiens” — at the time of the abortion. Defendant, however, can present expert witnesses who will dispute the point and who will assert that plaintiff’s characterization of the embryo as a living human being is a moral, theological, or ideological judgment, not a scientific or biological one. Clearly, there is no consensus in the medical community or society supporting plaintiff’s position that a six- to eight-week-old embryo is, as a matter of biological fact — as opposed to a moral, theological, or philosophical judgment — “a complete, separate, unique and irreplaceable human being” or that terminating an early pregnancy involves “actually killing an existing human being.”
I guess if you can get expert witnesses to say that the earth is 6,000 years old, you can get expert witnesses to say that a six- to eight-week-old embryo carried by a human mother is not a living organism belonging to the species Homo sapiens. And the best part is, they’ll never even have to convince a jury that they’re credible!
Do you think this works for other kinds of litigation?
Plaintiff: When I asked my doctor whether I should quit smoking because of my asthma, he said, “Don’t be stupid, my mother smoked every day of her life and she lived to be 119.”
Defendant: I can present expert witnesses who will dispute the point that smoking causes lung disease and who will assert that, in fact, it makes you cool.
New Jersey Supreme Court: Good enough for us! Case dismissed!